In the Bag: Merrick and Fichardt

New Titleist Pro V1x seals weekend double

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Merrick
Fichardt

If you typed the words John Merrick into Google at the start of last week, you would have been directed towards the human curiosity of The Elephant Man.

Come Monday morning, however, it’s the golfing version stamping his authority across the search engine after swinging past his rivals to clinch maiden PGA Tour glory at the LA Open.

And there was nothing ugly about it, either.

Merrick overhauled a three-shot deficit on overnight leader Bill Haas with a final-round 69 to tie Charlie Beljan on 11-under, shortly before defeating him with a par on the second extra hole at the iconic par-4 tenth.

Despite taking 169 tournaments to cross the winning line, the 30-year-old Californian, who becomes the ninth first-time winner at Riviera Country Club, knows he couldn’t have chosen a sweeter place to do it.

“To be able to play the tournament was a dream of mine. But to win? I can’t describe it, it’s so much fun,” said Merrick, who attended the LA Open as a young boy and played the course numerous times when at UCLA.

Merrick and Beljan made pars at the first sudden-death hole at 18 with delicate up-and-downs from the edge of the green and then headed to the drivable 10th where Merrick opted to lay short of the green while Beljan bombed his ball into the left-hand rough.

Marking the second straight year the LA Open was decided in a playoff at the tenth – a 315-yard brute that requires skill and accuracy and statistically the hardest green to hit in regulation on the PGA Tour – Beljan was short-sighted and chipped short of the green before three-putting to hand Merrick the win.

Merrick played a full bag of Titleist equipment including the new 913 family of driver, fairway wood and hybrid

Earlier in the day, Darren Fichardt held on for a brave two-shot victory at the Africa Open despite bogeying three of his final five holes.

The Titleist Pro V1x loyalist, who was tied for the 54-hole lead with compatriot Jaco Van Zyl, moved serenely into a four-shot lead midway through the back nine but took his eye of the ball dramatically on the closing holes.

Thankfully for the four-time European Tour champion, the chasing pack failed to capitalise.

“I started losing focus,” said the 37-year-old South African. “I was four shots ahead and I started taking it for granted. 

“I was putting unbelievable and then I missed a short putt at the 14th and thought ‘what’s going on here?’

“This is one of my favourite tournaments. The golf course is second to none – you’ve got to hit a lot of knock down shots and irons off the tee.

“I always enjoy coming here, and obviously winning the tournament makes the week especially enjoyable.”

Click here to see highlights of the final day's play in South Africa.

In the Bag

John Merrick

Driver: Titleist 913D2 (8.5-degree; Aldila NV 75 X)
Fairway wood: Titleist 913F (13.5-degree; Aldila NV 85 X)
Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19-degree; Aldila NV 105 X)
Irons (3-PW): Titleist MB (True Temper Dynamic Gold X100)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM4 (54 and 60-degree; True Temper Dynamic Gold X100)
Putter: Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport SS Tour
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x (2013)
Shoes: FJ Icon
Glove: FJ StaSof

Darren Fichardt

Driver: Titleist 910D3 (7.5-degree)
Fairway wood:
Titleist 910Fd (14.5-degree)
Irons:
Titleist AP2 CB (3-7), Titleist MB (8-PW)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design (54 and 60-degree)
Putter: Odyssey White Ice Sabertooth
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x (2013)
Shoes: FJ Sport
Glove:
FJ StaSof
Apparel: Cutter & Buck

Follow us on Twitter: @Golfmagic

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