By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- John Merrick calls it the "eternal golfer's dilemma." The former UCLA standout plays in a tournament, and the Northern Trust Open is his fifth straight, and then Merrick picks apart his performance in the quest to improve.
"I've just been trying to regroup each tournament and try to figure out what's gone wrong," Merrick explained. "... It's a work in progress all the time. Just trying to minimize the mistakes and put up a good number each day."
So far, so good, too. After missed cuts the first two weeks of the West Coast swing, Merrick has shot in the 60s in eight of his last 10 rounds -- and the two most recent at Riviera have landed him in a tie for third at 8 under, one shot off the lead.
On Friday, Merrick fired a 66 that included six birdies and a single shot dropped to par. He only hit nine fairways, but that was four more than in the first round, and a solid 15 of 18 greens in regulation.
"I'm feeling comfortable with my swing," Merrick said. "I've been working on it hard. ... I feel like I'm in a good spot and I kind of figured a couple things out with my putting last week up at Pebble and made some good ones. Missed a couple short ones today but I think everyone is going to miss a few putts out there. Overall it was a pretty solid day on the greens, too."
Merrick is from nearby Long Beach and lives within 10 minutes of fellow TOUR pros and long-time buddies Peter Tomasulo, Patrick Cantlay and John Mallinger, who is three strokes behind after two rounds this week. He says he played most of his golf as a collegian at Bel-Air Country Club but he's racked up 30 or 40 rounds at Riviera, enough to feel "comfortable," Merrick says.
"This is a course you can't fake it around, you need to think around here and you can't just pull out driver on every hole or shoot at every flag, so you really have to know where to miss it and where to position yourself," he says. "There's a lot of course management involved with this course, and I think over the years, I've kind of learned where to go and where not to go."
But Merrick, who has made the FedExCup Playoffs each of the first six years of the competition, is still looking for his first PGA TOUR win. The 30-year-old has been runner-up twice, most recently at last year's FedEx St. Jude Classic where he owned a share of the lead after 54 holes.
"I've had a couple close calls, and dwelling on it and thinking about it, I think it's even harder," Merrick said. "I think winning just happens when you're kind of in your process and playing well and doing the best you can on each shot."
NORTON, Mass. – John Merrick needed to roll in a putt from off the green on the final hole Monday to give himself a shot at advancing in the FedExCup Playoffs. But his putt from just outside 57 feet didn’t fall, forcing Merrick to settle for birdie, his Playoffs coming to an end.
Merrick entered the Deutsche Bank Championship ranked 98th in points but was 5 under coming into the final round. He shot a 1-unde r70 that currently has him in a tie for 20th. He’s projected to finish 72nd in points – two spots away from a trip to the BMW Championship.
“I played solid, just not good enough,” Merrick said. “When you start out at 98, you can’t expect to just cruise through to the next round.
“You’ve got to play well – and I almost did.”
Davis Love III, a 20-time PGA TOUR winner, shoots for his first win since 2008 at the FedEx St. Jude Classic.
Jeff Maggert and John Merrick are at the top, but 15 other golfers are within two shots of the lead.
After hitting onto the green, John Merrick would roll in a birdie putt on No. 13 on Thursday.
EDISON, N.J. -- Getting there may be a challenge with Hurricane Irene rumbling up the East Coast.
But eight players punched their ticket to TPC Boston on Saturday at The Barclays when they moved into the top 100 in the FedExCup standings.
Camilo Villegas made the biggest move -- jumping 58 spots to 51st when he tied for sixth at Plainfield Country Club. Chris Stroud moved up 31 spots, Ian Poulter 36, Padraig Harrington 44, Bill Lunde 18, William McGirt 29, John Merrick 6 and Ernie Els 19 to No. 99.
Poulter and McGirt had two of the biggest challenges in the final round. The colorful Brit birdied four of his last five holes on Saturday to seal the deal while McGirt, who was the last man to make the field for the first event in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup, clocked in at No. 101 until he made a birdie on the 17th hole.
Falling out of the top 100 were Bryce Molder, Hunter Haas, Chris DiMarco, Paul Goydos, Nick o'Hern, Matt Bettencourt, Tim Herron and Michael Bradley. Of that group only Molder made the cut and his closing 70 and tie for 65th simply wasn't enough.
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- What a difference a year makes.
In 2010, 77 players completed four rounds at The Greenbrier Classic and 46 of those shot four rounds in the 60s -- or in Stuart Appleby's case, three in the 60s and one 59.
Only four players have that opportunity on Sunday, though. They are Anthony Kim, Webb Simpson, Chris Couch and John Merrick.
Looks like the restoration of the Old White TPC has accomplished its mission to make the C.B. Macdonald/Seth Raynor creation more challenging.