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.
On Sunday, he did better than that. He won on it.
Merrick hit two clutch shots that led to two pars in a sudden-death playoff and won the Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles when Charlie Beljan missed a 5-foot par putt on the second extra hole.
Merrick, who closed with a 2-under 69, became the ninth player to make this tournament his first PGA Tour victory. It could not have come at a better place. Merrick grew up in Long Beach, attended the 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. ‘‘Growing up as a kid, coming out here, I just wanted to play this tournament.’’
It was a tough finish for Beljan, famous for having an anxiety attack when he won at Disney late last year. He holed an 18-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to close with a 4-under 67 and wind up in a playoff.
Merrick finished at 11-under 273. Fredrik Jacobson missed a 4-foot par putt on the 18th hole that would have put the Swede in the playoff.
LPGA — Jiyai Shin won the Australian Women’s Open in Canberra, finishing with a 1-under 72 to beat world No. 1 Yani Tseng by two strokes after being tied for the overnight lead with teenage star Lydia Ko.
Shin mixed three birdies with two bogeys in a final-round showdown with Ko (76) and Tseng (66).
Champions — Bernhard Langer won his second ACE Group Classic title in three years, surviving three bogeys and a double bogey to finish one stroke ahead of Jay Don Blake in Naples, Fla. Langer’s even-par 72 matched the highest final-round score for a winner at the ACE.
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Rory McIlroy is the No. 1 seed for the Match Play Championship, held at Dove Mountain, north of Tucson. He will play Shane Lowry in the first round. Tiger Woods is the No. 2 seed and will play Charles Howell III, the first time they have squared off in this format since Woods beat Howell in the quarterfinals of the 1996 US Amateur. The tournament begins Wednesday.