Today’s Touch: Beljan’s Boasting

In fairytale fashion, local California kid John Merrick was victorious yesterday at the Northern Trust Open.

With Bill Haas primed to join elusive company as a back-to-back winner at Riviera, it was Merrick who closed with a 2-under 69 and overtook Haas, the overnight leader.

Merrick needed extra holes to do so, and ended up beating 2012 PGA Tour winner Charlie Beljan in a playoff.

After the round, Merrick explained how much winning this tournament meant to him: “growing up as a kid I went to a lot of these tournaments and played a lot of rounds at UCLA and to win in my hometown it’s amazing. It’s a dream come true. I can’t believe it – it hasn’t sunk in yet.”

Certainly, it was a win with meaning for the 30-year-old Merrick.

However, it was Beljan who stole the headlines with his post round comments, going so far as to compare the 10th hole at Riviera – where they played the second playoff hole, and Beljan succumbed to Merrick – to a local mini-putt layout.

“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.”

Riviera is revered. It’s considered one of the greatest courses in the world. The par 4 tenth, the hole subject to Beljan’s comment, is consistently ranked as one of the best golf holes on tour.

Beljan is of course entitled to his own opinion about the layout and any other subject matter he so chooses – America and Canada are free countries and freedom of speech is allowed, if not encouraged.

But, this is not the first time that Beljan will have got in some hot water for his comments. Just last year his time on Twitter was cut short (he’s since returned) after calling American President Barak Obama “the biggest D Bag this country has ever seen.”

Beljan has had personal struggles in the past – his dealings with anxiety and panic attacks are well documented – but he’s managed to overcome them and become a winner on the PGA Tour.

As a professional athlete – although his previous diet suggested otherwise; apparently he disliked food and ate Subway once a day – his statements on politics and putting surfaces got put into a brighter spotlight than normal.

For Beljan, it will be a long RV ride to his next tournament in Florida, and perhaps some time to think about his comments.

But he did leave with a nice consolation gift from Riviera. After playing on Saturday with Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson, he got their autographs.

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In Touch

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Hitting the Links

David Hueber has written a PhD dissertation on what is being called ‘the most comprehensive analysis of U.S. golf course development ever produced’ (Global Golf Post)

Tiger Woods joins Barack Obama for a round of golf in Florida (National Post)

David Feherty appeared on The Late Show (Golf Channel)

Bernhard Langer goes wire-to-wire at the Champions Tour ACE Group Classic (Golf Channel)

Lydia Ko finishes third at the LPGA season opener. Will not turn pro (South China Morning Post)

Any suggestions? Dude has 15,000 golf balls and doesn’t know what to do with them. Obviously, he asks the internet (Reddit)

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Picture of the Week – 

A 'kangaroo delay' at the LPGA's season opener in Australia (Source: Getty)
A ‘kangaroo delay’ at the LPGA’s season opener in Australia (Source: Getty)
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