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Sunday
Feb172013

Proof Golf Gods Listen: Laying-Up Pays Off At Riviera's 10th!

There's a lot to love about John Merrick's Northern Trust Open win, mostly because the Long Beach-born and still-residing 30-year old is a former UCLA golfer and the closest thing to a native son to ever win the tournament (he passes Oxnard's Corey Pavin by 20 miles and is the first LA County born winner).

John Merrick birdies the par-4 10th in regulation play (click to enlarge)But also because after years of stinking up the 10th hole, Merrick figured out that laying up--a preferred approach to the hole of this website--actually works.

And after a birdie in regulation play and a winning-par on the second hole of this year's Northern Trust Open, Merrick's conservative approach paid off. So did his respect for the hole.

The Golf Gods do work in mysterious ways.

Check out Merrick's post round comments.

Q.  10?

JOHN MERRICK:  10, yeah, I just butchered that hole my rookie year, and a couple years after that, hitting driver and hitting 3‑wood in the traps and finally just laid up.  I actually hit 3‑wood yesterday to the front left flag and made par.  But yeah, I've just been laying up on that hole and I know with a wedge in your hand from the middle of the fairway, I think it's better than hitting wood off that tee, and it paid off.

So I hit 3‑iron and then I had 90 yards and just hit a full lob‑wedge.  I thought it was going to be a little bit closer and just kind of checked left.  I had a straight putt that I thought was going to break left but I kind of just laid it out to the right.

Yeah, and then Charlie hit driver, and it's a tough hole.  It's just from the tee box, you're sitting there and it looks like ‑‑ it looks so easy, looks like you are going to hit it up left of the green and chip on, but it's one of the great, short par 4s that we play on TOUR.

Q.  Charlie had pretty negative feelings about 10 being a playoff hole, just because of the way the hole plays, and I don't think he felt like it's a fairway ‑‑

JOHN MERRICK:  That's what he said?

Q.  He said they should put a windmill on it.

JOHN MERRICK:  (Laughs).

Q.  Thinking about 10, were you confident going into it?

John Merrick's textbook approach in regulation, via ShotLink (click to enlarge)JOHN MERRICK:  Yeah.

Q.  And was that because you had come to peace with what you wanted to do on that hole.

JOHN MERRICK:  Yeah.

Q.  And did you think your shot had cleared the bunker off the club?

JOHN MERRICK:  Yeah, you know, maybe ‑‑ I think the way I played the 10th hole, maybe that's just a microcosm of how I approach this course and kind of my experience on the TOUR so far.

I think it's one of the great par 4s that we play, short par 4s.  Because when you look at it from the tee, it looks like the most benign hole.  You don't see all the slopes up on the left and everything.  It's so hard to hit a wood and be in great position there.  I mean, there's this little window like a little ten‑yard window where you have to put it to get up‑and‑down.  I think it's one of the great holes.

That 3‑iron I hit, it was kind of cooling off and it was kind of getting a little cold and it was 195 to clear the trap and I hit 3‑iron.  I knew I had plenty of club, but it was just a little further right than I wanted.  I wanted it further left to have a better angle.  I had a better angle in regulation.  But yeah, it just a 3‑iron and you've got a full lob‑wedge where you can take a full swing and put spin on the ball.

Yeah, I think that's the way to play that hole.

Q.  So total confidence on your part?

JOHN MERRICK:  Absolutely.  I knew for sure with that back right flag ‑‑ yeah, total confidence.  Why are you laughing, Doug?

I knew ‑‑ no, I wasn't going to hit wood.  I wanted a full wedge in my hand from the fairway.

How hard was that?

Apparently, too complicated for runner-up Charlie Beljan. I know it's hard to believe that someone so respectful of his President and who doesn't eat for 20 hours at a time during the most important competition of their life might not be the sharpest knife in the set, but if he wants to win at Riviera, Beljan might want to remember the old "attitude is a decision" mantra before he arrives at No. 10 next year.

Charlie Beljan (click to enlarge)Bobby Joe Grooves, the mic is yours...

CHARLIE BELJAN:  The 10th hole, it's been birdie or bogey all week for me.  I've laid up, I've made birdie; I've laid up, I've made bogey.  I've gone for it twice now and made two bogeys.  But the 10th hole, it's a tough golf hole.

I don't really have anything good to say about the 10th hole.  I think it's a funky golf hole.  Obviously that's what Riviera, they are kind of known for the 10th hole.  It is a great, short par 4.  The green just needs to be a little more receptive.  I'm glad that hole is not at TPC Scottsdale around the stadium where you see people making a big‑time fool of themselves.

Q.  Merrick puts himself in really good position off the tee on 10, and you took a while to think about it.  What were you thinking about and what happened on the swing itself?

CHARLIE BELJAN:  I wasn't that upset with the drive I hit.  I just knew I had to keep it left because he hit it right; I didn't think Merrick was in good position off the tee.  I don't think there is a good position on No. 10.  The only good position you're at is yesterday when I hit 2‑iron onto the front edge of the green and I got to 2‑putt for birdie.

Other than that, I don't think there is a good position on 10.  Anything could happen.  He hit a beautiful shot in there.  It carried the bunker by a foot and it barely stopped from going in the other bunker.

So that's how it goes.  My caddie and I was thinking about going for it, but to hit it in that little spot, there wasn't much chance.  I hit a tough chip out of there.  I hit a beautiful putt up there, and then I hit a good 4‑footer that when it left the face, I thought we were going to the next hole and it just broke more than I thought.

Q.  They talk about local knowledge being so key here.  Was there one shot or stroke in the playoff where you feel not having played here before made a difference?

CHARLIE BELJAN:  No, not at all.  I think you could play here 10,000 times and still not know how to play No. 10.

18 is a great golf hole.  You know, I just find it tough that we go to No. 10.  To play a playoff hole, I think it's a great hole, don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking it, but it's just a tough hole to have a playoff on.  We might as well go and put a windmill out there and hit some putts.

Shocking he lost the playoff, isn't it?

Nice work Golf Gods, nice work.

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Reader Comments (34)

I have no more time for Charlie Beljian. The only windmill I see is that mouth of his.
02.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPJ
I did not get to see the final round, but through three rounds, laying up had a scoring average of 4.1 while going for it was 4.03.
02.17.2013 | Unregistered Commenterh2o-boy
Goofy hole.
02.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterWritten off
The more Beljan speaks the more he shows himself to be a mental midget. Well done John Merrick.
02.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterOWGR Fan
Bobby Joe? Maybe the earliest version. The later BJ appreciated Riviera. Charlie sounds more like Knut Thorssun to me. Minus the Swedish accent. We need Hawkeye to add that for us. Ja?
02.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
What kind of hole would Charlie prefer they play?
02.17.2013 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
Charlie lost because karma is a bee-yatch...its what he gets for having his caddy line up every single putt...looks like he belongs on the LPGA with those shinannigans...
02.17.2013 | Unregistered Commentergreg c
So this CB guy is one of best players in the world this weekend, and here's what he's got for a golf mind: "Put a windmill out there and let's putt"????

I was hoping for at least, "Wow, this shot makes you think," but guess it was just, "Mm, I 'd love me a cheeseburger right now."
02.17.2013 | Unregistered Commenter3foot1
The equation is simple. When strategic thinking is required, it tends to weed out less thoughtful golfers.
02.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterF. X. Flinn
When Simpson went right into the woods at #8 today and took 5 minutes to get a ruling after his unplayable drop, Sir Nick let his playing partners have it for not being ready to play their shots immediately. Good for him. It really was atrocious -- they had both played the left fairway, were miles away from Simpson. There seems to be some sort of unspoken rule that you don't get ready until it's your turn.
02.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterF. X. Flinn
I think the announcers are starting to get on the slow play call out bandwagon. No reason this went too long to show it all, even with this little pissant playoff. If they were to start dissing every player every time they dick around, maybe even te PGA would actually notice...I hope the networks have, and have served notice to the tour--that may be the case. Steve, anything on that?

Good for Merrick, and Beljan can sit in the bathtub and pop his poot bubbles, because that is about his speed.

I e mailed MD to complain about the lack of exposure of Beljan's widely reported sugar/food deprivation that created his ''panic attack''.... hopefully they will FINALLY expose this a~hole for what he is, and he can savor that ''windmill'' comment Finchem fine over a snickers bar.

Hey, don't eat for almost a day and see how your body starts shaking and such. What a fool.
02.17.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
"Wi majt eswell put ö windmill ån it aot däär en go hitt sam pats". Something like that, KLG? ;)
02.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
Good on JM for the win. Think Beljan missed that putt just so he wouldn't have to give all that extra dough to the treasuries?
#payinghisfairshare

At what point does it not pencil out for CB to win prizemoney on tour? He certainly cant afford to win tournaments...he'll be broke; can't afford the taxes.
Close call, but thankfully his 'better' judgement got the best of him: hit 2 iron to the front of the green, and two putt for birdie...Hey, if CB thinks that there is no way to know how to play #10, that's fine with me. Either a CB or Webb victory would have been tough to swallow. CB doesn't appear to have any respect for the course, and we all know that Riv is much more than the 10th, CB. As always, te only way to watch is with a DVR. By my count, took the final group ~3'30" to play the final 11 holes. What was the official pace of the final group?

The caddie alignment was ridiculous, as was the near touching of the putting line next to the hole by said caddie. Reminded me of a 4 man Texas scramble where all 4 guys miss a 10 footer from the same spot, then start blowing through their mulligans to make the putt (no one does, that is, until one guys drains it on his 4th attempt, but he was already out of mullies - the group counts it anyway).

Also caught feherty remarking on CB putting with his shades on, and that some of these lenses enhance the vision of the putting surface contours. While I give no credence to DF's knowledge of the capabilities of these lenses [was he just plugging for Transitions], why would the rules allow for this but not a rangefinder?
02.18.2013 | Unregistered CommenterUbb
Yes, Hawkeye! Exactly.
02.18.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
Yesterday I was TiVoing the action but watching live for the stretch that began with Simpson's group on 8. My plan was to watch until the leaders finished 10, run an errand and then watch to the end, catching up to live action with the leaders on 16. Time dragged on. I was getting antsy. Finally at 3:50pm ET the last group was in the fairway at #9. They finished #10 nealy 1/2 hour later, 27 minutes, at 4:17. That's 3 approach shots, 6 putts, 3 tee shots, 4 shortgame shots, 3 putts -- 19 strokes in an average of 1 minute 20 seconds each. It's a pace over 15 minutes a hole.
02.18.2013 | Unregistered CommenterF. X. Flinn
That boy is a M-O-R-O-N.
The PGAT needs to adopt a local rule on caddy alignment.
It may already be too late. imagine 24 handicaps up and down the east coast being lined up by their 13 year old caddies.
02.18.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRose
Charlie is a bit of a d-bag, but he did call it a great hole before the windmill reference. Turns out there are more windmill possibilities if you hit driver!
02.18.2013 | Unregistered Commentertlavin
props to Faldo and McCord for the call "par wins it on 10" in the playoff
02.18.2013 | Unregistered CommenterUmp
How is 10 a great short par 4 if hitting driver doesn't reward the player? More birdies were made from laying up than going for the green, unless the pin is front left. Eagles are almost non existent, as it's almost impossible to drive onto the green and hold.

My guess is this is what Merion is going to play like this summer...the winner will wear out their 3/4/5 iron off the tee.
02.18.2013 | Unregistered CommenterManku
For the first time in my 40 years of golf, I have a least-favorite person on the PGA TOUR. Charlie Beljan, thank you for opening up the selection of "anyone but..." when looking at a field.

#whypeoplehategolf
02.18.2013 | Unregistered CommenterTombo
Lots of hate here for Charlie, not sure if all of it is warranted. His tweet was stupid, but the panic attack was real regardless of his diet.

He may be more than a flash in the plan, though, he seems to have a lot of game. We may be watching him on Sunday afternoons a fair amount.
Manku, isn't one of the definitions of a great hole is that it makes you think long and hard about how to play it?
02.18.2013 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
Let's hope we don't see any more of Beljan. On any day. Proof that golf is not a gentleman's game.
02.18.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDirtclod
No one has talked about the 'folding' of so many players down the stretch. It was hard to watch for me. Is Mahan still crying that he wasn't selected for the Ryder Cup? Another good finish for him and securing a W with a bogey bogey finish! At least Haas admitted he 'squandered' the opportunity to get a W and win the storied LA Open.
02.18.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaul
Manku, isn't one of the definitions of a great hole is that it makes you think long and hard about how to play it?

I don't know...I'm not a good enough golfer...hitting it solid and relatively straight is good enough for me :)

Having said that, if the pros are butchering the 10th what chance does the average golfer have? I've played plenty of short par 4's in my life, and can often leave with a decent score. Most 15+ handicappers would make a double or worse on this hole unless the pin were in the front. Too penal in my book.

Isn't golf supposed to be fun?
02.18.2013 | Unregistered CommenterManku
Knowing that CB is such a FOOL makes Merrick's win even more satisfying. I think there might be something to this golf gods thing after all.
02.18.2013 | Unregistered CommenterLong Beach Bruin
Elkington is tweeting that 10th was a great hole ruined.
Aah, now I see why you guys don't like Charlie B. After watching the guy hit some clutch shots down the stretch, including a superb 20 footer on 18 to make the playoff, I had assumed that golf fans might welcome the arrival on the scene of a new 'player'.

After reading some of the vitriol on here I googled around and see that he dissed your precious liberal messiah. I guess there's no way back from a crime such as that in this echo chamber.

I mean. 'Hate'? Seriously? He expressed some obviously deeply felt, if injudiciously worded political views in the midst of an election campaign. Rightly or wrongly there are many people around who believe that Obama has been and continues to be a disaster for America and the West.. Are such opinions to become illegal in our brave new world? I get the impression that many on this board believe so.

Why not stick to ranting about how far the ball goes? At least that topic is
02.18.2013 | Unregistered CommentervinylBudgie
VB,

What CB wrote on twitter about the POTUS revealed that he is an idiot. Not because he holds
that view, but because he thought it was a good idea to put it on his twitter feed for all to see. When your profession puts you in the public eye, doing something like that is beyond stupid, it's completely brainless. And, frankly, no matter what your politics, calling
the POTUS a db is grade A horseshit. Have some effing respect, dude. Along with his melodrama at Disney, which, to be fair, was partly a real thing, and his complaining at Riv, CB has quickly identified himself as a melodramatic, disrespectful, whining idiot. Most golf fans don't want to root for that kind of guy. If you want to root for melodramatic, disrespectful, whining idiots, go right ahead. But please don't make this another political thread. The political geniuses around here have already hijacked one recent post. Check that out if you're jonesing for some Crossfire. It's a real Kennedy School Symposium on the Obama/Tiger thread.
02.18.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRES
Ugh, Charlie. Don't say that, it did nothing for you. http://wp.me/p32cTD-2B
02.18.2013 | Unregistered Commentershutfacegolf
RES
'melodramatic, disrespectful, whining idiot'. 'beyond stupid', 'completely brainless'. 'grade A horseshit'

Thanks for proving my point!

You have delivered a grossly over the top character assassination of a man you don't know because you don't like his politics.

Can you hold you hand on your heart and tell me that you would be coming out with stuff like this had the object of his twittering been from the other end of the political spectrum?

Why not stick to the golf?
02.19.2013 | Unregistered CommentervinylBudgie
VB,

Good idea, let's stick to the golf. Perhaps you can ask Geoff to delete your above post, which is the longest political treatise in this particular comment section.

Let's move on to the Match Play.
02.19.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRES
What an ASS! What goes around comes around.
02.19.2013 | Unregistered CommenterG-Man
no more with Charlie Beljan
04.5.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGolf Courses

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