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February 17 2013

4:48 PM

Hometown hero ahead by two

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- John Merrick is looking to author a Cinderella story at the Northern Trust Open.

Merrick, who was raised and still lives in Long Beach and graduated from UCLA, has a two-stroke lead with seven holes remaining in his hometown event.

Merrick, who is looking for his first victory in seven years as a PGA TOUR member, just birdied the 10th and 11th holes to slip past Hunter Mahan. He made a 14-foot birdie putt at the 10th hole and got up-and-down from the greenside bunker at No. 11 to move to 12 under.

Minutes after Merrick birdied the 11th, Mahan three-putted the 12th from 29 feet, missing a 7-footer to save par. So Mahan is now tied for second with Fredrik Jacobson, Bill Haas, Webb Simpson and Charl Schwartzel at 10 under.

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