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Monday, February 18, 2013

The Limerick Summary: 2013 Northern Trust Open

Winner: John Merrick

Around the wider world of golf: Jiyai Shin won the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open on the LPGA/LET/ALPG (yes, three tours co-sanction the event); Bernhard Langer won the ACE Group Classic on the Champions Tour; and Darren Fichardt won the Africa Open on the ET/Sunshine Tour. And for you racing fans, Danica Patrick won the pole position at next week's NASCAR Daytona 500, becoming the first woman in history to do so in any NASCAR Sprint Cup race. Way to go, Danica!

John Merrick

At the start of the final round at Riviera, my decision not to pick defending champion Bill Haas as a favorite to win looked like a mistake. Shortly after the turn I looked psychic. One of my picks, Charl Schwartzel, finished T3 and only one stroke out of the playoff. (At the time I picked him I didn't know he grew up playing on kikuyugrass.)

Under no circumstances would I have picked either Charlie Beljan or John Merrick to win this thing. Beljan has one win -- he won at Disney last year while fighting a well-publicized battle with panic attacks -- and Merrick hadn't won on the Tour at all. (I'm not counting Tour wins.)

Perhaps they wouldn't have picked themselves either. The leaderboard certainly got clogged up quickly enough. At times there were 7 players separated by a single stroke. No one seemed capable of taking a lead and holding it.

I guess the only thing that seems predictable at Riviera is sudden death... that goes exactly 2 holes. The drivable par-4 10th IS sudden death at this tournament! If the Tour is worried about technology requiring holes to be too long, just let course designers study Riviera's 10th. Last year Haas drove it long and pitched back to the green; this year that strategy didn't work for Beljan. Merrick snagged his first win by playing it short and safe... and barely won it with a par.

You know, Hogan reportedly didn't believe putting should be part of the game because he wasn't a very good putter. It amazes me that Riviera, a course where putting is so important, became "Hogan's Alley."

So this week's Limerick Summary salutes the California boy who made good at Hogan's stomping grounds and thus got an invite to another course where Hogan played pretty well:
John Merrick grew up in South Cali;
He proved that he knows Hogan’s Alley.
And this, his first win,
Is his ticket to en-
Ter the Masters. He won’t dilly-dally!
The photo came from the Northern Trust Open main page at

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