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Merrick wins Northern Trust Open

LOS ANGELES — John Merrick was a young face in the crowd at Riviera for so many years, dreaming of one day playing the fabled course on the PGA Tour.

He did better than that Sunday. He won on it for his first PGA Tour victory.

Merrick hit two clutch shots that led to two pars in a sudden-death playoff and won the Northern Trust Open when Charlie Beljan missed a 5-foot par putt on the second extra hole.

Merrick, 30, who closed with 2-under 69 for 11-under 273, grew up in Long Beach, Calif., attended this event as a kid and went to school down the street at UCLA. "I can't put this into words," he said off the 10th green, his eyes welling with tears. "I just wanted to play this tournament."

It was a tough finish for Beljan, famous for having an anxiety attack when he won the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic at Lake Buena Vista in November. He holed an 18-foot birdie putt on No. 18 to close with 4-under 67 and wind up in a playoff.

He made a tough 6-foot putt for par on the first playoff hole, No. 18. Going to the par-4 10th, 315 yards, Beljan drove long and left, and his chip didn't reach the green. He putted his third shot just above the hole and watched it slide by on the left for a bogey.

"Obviously not the way I wanted to end it," said Beljan, who also bogeyed the 10th hole in regulation, "but you know what, you win some, you lose some, and that's how it goes."

Fredrik Jacobson missed a 4-foot par putt on the 18th that would have put him in a playoff. He wound up with 69 and tied for third with Charl Schwartzel (70) and third-round leader Bill Haas (73), who also had chances to win at different stages.

LPGA: Jiyai Shin won the Australian Women's Open by two shots, finishing with 1-under 72 to beat world No. 1 Yani Tseng with an 18-under 274 total. Shin was tied for the overnight lead of the season opener with 15-year-old amateur Lydia Ko, who finished four back after 3-over 76. Seminole's Brittany Lincicome (72) was 7 under and Tampa's Cindy LaCrosse (70) 6 under.

Champions: Bernhard Langer shot a final-round 72 and won his second ACE Group Classic title in three years by one stroke at Naples. He finished at 12-under 204, ahead of Jay Don Blake (68).

rory, tiger lead Match play seeds: Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods are the top two seeds in this week's World Golf Championships Match Play Championship at Dove Mountain near Tucson, Ariz. McIlroy opens Wednesday against Shane Lowry, who got in when Phil Mickelson chose not to play. Woods plays Charles Howell III.

Merrick wins Northern Trust Open 02/17/13 [Last modified: Sunday, February 17, 2013 9:13pm]
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