Former UCLA golfer John Merrick won his first PGA Tour event Sunday, taking the Northern Trust Open at the Riviera Country Club in a playoff.
The former Pac-10 champion and All-American finished at 11-under par, beating 28-year-old Charlie Beljan. Merrick, a Long Beach native, is the first player from Los Angeles County to win the tournament. He joined UCLA Hall of Famer Corey Pavin as the only Bruins to do so.
From Daily News columnist Jill Painter, who was on hand at the scene:
“Growing up as a kid and coming out here, I just wanted to play this tournament,” Merrick said. “To win it, I can’t even put it into words. It’s a dream come true.”
When Beljan missed a 4-foot par putt on the second playoff hole at the 10th hole, Merrick hugged his caddie, Ryan Goble. Goble is a former assistant coach at UCLA who recruited Merrick. Their bond is longstanding.
Merrick, 30, also thanked the crowd for their cheers of “Bruins!” and “Long Beach!” The win qualifies him for his third appearance in the Masters Tournament in April.