PACIFIC PALISADES – Growing up in Long Beach, John Merrick frequented Riviera CC as a young golf fan, hoping to one day compete there on the PGA TOUR. Sunday, he did even better than that, defeating Charlie Beljan in a two-hole playoff to capture not only the 2013 Northern Trust Open title, but also his first PGA TOUR victory.
“I can’t even put this into words right now,” said Merrick, fighting back tears, as he walked off the 10th green seconds after securing the championship.
The win was extra special for Merrick, who has plenty of ties to the Los Angeles area. The Long Beach native played his college golf minutes away from Riviera at UCLA, and is a member at Virginia CC. He also won the 2001 SCGA Amateur Championship as an 18-year-old at La Jolla CC (pictured right).
"I was just trying to play it one shot at a time," said Merrick. "My heart was racing out there for sure, I was nervous. But to win a tournament in front of family and friends in your hometown and people shouting out 'Bruins!' and 'Long Beach!' on this specific golf course, I can't even describe how good it feels."
Sunday’s victory will send Merrick to the Masters, where he has competed twice before. In 2010 Merrick failed to make the cut at Augusta, but had success there the year prior when he finished T6.
Click here to view full tournament results.