John Merrick Records First Professional Victory
July 3, 2006
Former UCLA All-American John Merrick recorded his first professional victory by winning a three-hole playoff against Gavin Coles to capture the Peek'n Peak Classic at Findley Lake, NY Sunday.
Merrick birdied four of the last five holes to force the playoff with Coles at 11-under par 277. Coles was in the clubhouse after posting a final round 67 (-5); Merrick answered with a 68 (-4) as darkness loomed at the Peak'n Peek's Upper Resort Course.
On the first extra hole with darkness falling, Merrick drained a 25-foot birdie putt, forcing Coles to make his two-footer for birdie to continue the playoff.
'I saw he was in kick-in range and I thought to myself that I haven't made a long putt all week and now would be a pretty good time to make one,' said the 2004 UCLA graduate.
On the second extra playoff hole, Merrick missed a five-foot, downhill slider that would have ended things, but instead sent the twosome to the par 3, 174-yard 10th hole. At the 10th, Coles' tee shot found the rough, left of the green. His chip failed to reach the green and he missed a 20-foot putt for par. Merrick tapped in for par and collected $100,800.
'It hasn't sunk in yet,' said Merrick. 'This is great. Awesome.'
The victory elevated Merrick to 10th place on the current Nationwide money list ($145,720), an improvement of 42 spots. In 14 starts, he has made nine cuts and has recorded three Top 10 finishes.
Former UCLA standout Parker McLachlin tied for 26th at 286 (-2).
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