Thinking Man Wins at Riviera

AP Photo

LOS ANGELES – They talked about it, teacher and player, as the Northern Trust Open moved into the weekend and John Merrick was still around.

"How tough can you be? How patient can you be? How comfortable can you be?" Jamie Mulligan asked him.

It also came down to how smart.

The second hole of Merrick's playoff with Charlie Beljan was the 10th. That's the 310-yard par-4, the little coral snake that looks so innocent and plays so lethal.

Merrick, from Long Beach and UCLA, has played No. 10 enough to ignore the siren song. He tossed a nice 3-iron into the fairway and left himself a full lob wedge into the sausage-shaped green.

Beljan, who had fired up the crowd on 18 with his birdie celebration in regulation, weighed his decision. When he...

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