Merrick claims maiden title in Los Angeles

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Local boy John Merrick sealed his first PGA Tour win as he
edged out Charlie Beljan in a play-off for the Northern Trust
Open in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles.
Merrick, joint second heading into the final day, produced a
two-under-par 69 to finish 11 under overall and join Beljan
(67) in a tie-breaker as overnight leader Bill Haas fell
apart.
Both men parred the first play-off hole, the 18th, but when
Beljan’s par put on the 18th went by, Merrick could celebrate
his first Tour title.
Merrick, who grew up in Long beach and attended UCLA, said: “I
can’t even put it into words right now.
“Growing up here as a kid, I just wanted to play this
tournament. This is unbelievable.”
It was nevertheless a good week for Beljan, the man who
suffered an anxiety attack on the way to winning his first
Tour title the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic
late last year.
Beljan has taken to travelling to tournaments in a luxury
motor home with his family in a bid to prevent a repeat
attack, and it appears to be working.
The big loser of the day was Haas, who started the day with a
three-stroke lead before five bogeys in six holes from the
seventh dropped him out of contention.
Haas had not dropped a shot since Thursday, but he bogeyed the
second on Sunday – albeit in between two birdies – and there
was worse to come as his game disintegrated around the turn.
Haas found form again to birdie the 17th and 18th but that was
only good enough for a share third, alongside Sweden’s Fredrik
Jacobson and Charl Schwartzel of South Africa.
Both Jacobson and Schwartzel could have been part of the
play-off but for missed putts on the 18th.
Behind them were Josh Teater and Webb Simpson on nine under,
with Bae Sang-moon and Hunter Mahan a further shot back.
On an eventful final day, world number three Luke Donald was
another man who was kicking himself after he could only mange
a four-over 75, which included a triple bogey at the 12th,
dropping him back from fifth to a share of 16th on four under.
A shot back was his fellow Englishman Lee Westwood, who was
level for his final round, with compatriots Brian Davis and
Greg Owen two under.