The Northern Trust Open provided yet another thrilling finish. Local boy John Merrick beat Charlie Beljan in the second sudden-death hole at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif., on Sunday to earn his first PGA win.
Merrick won the playoff after sinking a five-foot par putt while Beljan missed his four-foot effort to match him.
The playoff wasn't the only aspect providing the drama on Sunday, as the entire day was packed with it. The lead changed hands multiple times, and it looked like there was going to be a lot more than two men in this playoff.
Brian Formica, the sports anchor for Greensboro's WFMY News, paints a picture of the final-round craziness with this tweet:
Setting up for a great finish on WFMY News 2 of the #NorthernTrustOpen, I just counted...a billion players could win it.— Brian Formica (@BrianFormica) February 17, 2013
Check out the top finishes, and then we'll get into a recap of this fantastic day of golf.
*View the complete final leaderboard on PGATour.com.
A year after besting Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley in a playoff to take the 2012 Northern Trust, Bill Haas looked poised to repeat as he began the day with a two-stroke advantage. However, his Sunday was not as clutch as last year.
It did not look like that was going to the case early. Haas holed the below 30-foot putt to birdie the par-four No. 3.
That was his second birdie in three holes to start the round. Of course, he bogeyed the second hole, and it was the negative number that was the sign of things to come.
Between holes seven and 13, Haas picked up five bogeys and was all but out of contention. He wound up with a two-over 73 for the for the day to finish the tournament at 10 under.
This opened the door for Beljan and Merrick.
Beljan began the day five shots off the lead, but he was nearly flawless on Sunday as he carded just one-over par score while drilling five birdies in the regulation 18 holes. None was bigger than this one on 18:
Merrick, who turned pro in 2004 and has 14 top 10s to his credit, began the day tied for second place. He was consistent and steady from the start on Sunday as he finished the front one-under.
It looked like he might run away with this tournament as he started the back with two consecutive birdies. Here is his effort on the par-four 10th:
At one point, he owned a two-stroke advantage. However, he leveled off, which landed him in the playoff.
Earlier in the day, it looked like Hunter Mahan was going to take control. He began the day six back, but he was finding his groove as the tournament progressed as he lowered his score by one during each of the first three rounds, going from 70 to 69 to 68.
He began Sunday on fire as he birdied four of the first six, and he finished the front side with this nice birdie:
However, Mahan wilted down the stretch and bogeyed three out of the last four holes.
Fredrik Jacobson should have been in the playoff, but he missed a three-foot effort for par on 18 and finished at 10 under. This was a heartbreaking miss for the Swede, who was making a nice late charge.
After starting the day four back, Jacobson charged into contention with a two-under 33 on the front, and then found himself with a share of the lead after back-to-back birdies on 15 and 16.
At that point, Jacobson was dialed in. Check out this approach on the par-four 15th
It will be a long time before Jacobson forgets about that missed putt on 18.
In all, this was a fantastic day of golf as the Northern Trust Open continues to prove this tournament is almost a guarantee to provide some great golf and dramatic finishes.