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February 15, 2013

John Merrick


MARK STEVENS:  John, want to talk about your round today and we'll take a few questions?
JOHN MERRICK:  Yeah, it was a good day.  I felt comfortable out there.  I think I made six birdies and one bogey.  You kind of expect a little tougher conditions.  It wasn't real windy out there.  It was actually kind of mild out there so it was great for scoring.

Q.  As a Long Beach guy, you must have played Riviera a number of times in your career?
JOHN MERRICK:  Yeah, just starting out in college, we would play Bel‑Air more, but played quite a few rounds out here.  I feel comfortable on the course, definitely.  A lot of tricky greens out here, so I think it takes quite a few rounds to get comfortable.

Q.  How many times would you estimate you've played here at Riviera, and secondly, do you know it's USC day?
JOHN MERRICK:  I did.  Probably, gosh, counting the two rounds, maybe 30 to 34 rounds.

Q.  I know we are only at the halfway stage, and the afternoon left, but Riviera tends to bring the creme to the top; how does it to see your name on that leaderboard?
JOHN MERRICK:  It feels really good.  This is a course you can't fake it around, you need to think around here and you can't just pull out driver on every hole or shoot at every flag, so you really have to know where to miss it and where to position yourself.
There's a lot of course management involved with this course, and I think over the years, I've kind of learned where to go and where not to go.  I used to hit driver on 10 until the hole just killed me over the years, so now I lay up every time.  I think that's helped me.  That's just one example.  But it feels really good, and a strong field to be up there, definitely.

Q.  Being kind of a local guy, do you have a lot of people out there following you, a lot of ticket requests?  And how do you deal with that?
JOHN MERRICK:  Yeah, I had a few.  A few of my dad's friends were out that come out and watch.  It's always great and it's fun to play.  It's kind of only this one and San Diego and a few at the desert come out, too.  It feels great to play close to home.  It feels comfortable.  Even though I'm not staying at home, I'm staying in Santa Monica this week; it's cool.
You know, when you're out playing, you kind of shut that out.  You can't just, you know, mingle with the crowd a lot.  But the support is great.  I think that kind of helps you out, definitely.

Q.  What do you think is more difficult, finding your way around this course well, or actually finding your way to this course through the traffic?
JOHN MERRICK:  I know, that's another thing that I've learned, too.  You can't‑‑ you don't want to stay east of the 405.  Those guys that are staying over there, they have a ton of traffic getting back.  Santa Monica, the commute's pretty easy.  I got here in ten minutes this morning.  That was before my tee time was 6:50.  I left at 5:30.  Yeah, I think Santa Monica is the way to go to stay here.

Q.  Can you talk about the quest to win on the PGA TOUR and how difficult that can be?
JOHN MERRICK:  Yeah, it is, very difficult.  It is very hard.  I've had a couple close calls, and dwelling on it and thinking about it, I think it's even harder.  I think winning just happens when you're kind of in your process and playing well and doing the best you can on each shot.
I think it's a result of that, and winning just kind of happens.  I try not to dwell on it.  Just try to pray well each day and do the best you can, and hopefully some day it will happen.  But dwelling on it, I don't think helps you out.

Q.  Did you find that earlier in your career, maybe you were dwelling on it or putting more pressure on yourself?
JOHN MERRICK:  Yeah, that's what kind of happens.  I did that a few years ago.  I just put too much pressure on myself; if I hit one bad shot, I kind of get down on myself too much.  Yeah, it's kind of‑‑ you definitely want to set high goals to win obviously, but you don't want to just put too much pressure on yourself.  You kind of just want to go out each day and do the best you can and that's what I've focused on.

Q.  Can you talk about the relationship that you have with John and Peter and now Patrick, all you guys training with Jamie in Virginia?
JOHN MERRICK:  Yeah, we are close friends.  We've played a ton of golf together.  Peter and I have grown up, we played at rival high schools in Long Beach.  He played at Poly and I played at Wilson, and we played all the way from junior golf up to college golf and roomed together all of 2006 on the Nationwide Tour.  We live ten minutes from each other.
And the same thing with Mallinger.  He was my older brother's roommate at Long Beach State, so we have known him and his family for a long time, ever since college.  No, it's cool to have close friends that are out here doing the same thing that you are.
All of our wives are good friends, too.  We all stayed in a house together last week at Pebble and we all have the same coach, too, Jamie (Mulligan), and he's been a huge help on and off the golf course.  We have kind of a tight‑knit little friendship and we are all doing well on the PGA TOUR.  It's pretty fun.
MARK STEVENS:  Thanks a lot, John.  Good luck this week.

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