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Local knowledge is a key, even off the course

Staying east of the 405 is considered a real bogey this week.

February 15, 2013|Chris Dufresne

The keys to playing Riviera Country Club as a PGA Tour pro don't just involve reading the greens and knowing what mid-iron to pull.

Just as important is where you plan to sleep at night.

John Merrick, in the thick of Northern Trust contention at eight under par, grew up in Long Beach and attended UCLA.

In other words, he is no crash-test dummy.

"You don't want to stay east of the 405." he said. "Those guys that are staying over there, they have a ton of traffic getting back."

Merrick, wisely, is staying in Santa Monica.

"I got here in 10 minutes this morning," he said. "Yeah, I think Santa Monica is the way to go to stay here."

Keep on dancing

James Hahn was not planning on playing Riviera this week, but his tie for third at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am last week earned him a spot in the Northern Trust.

"Sixth straight golf tournament for me," Hahn said. "Usually don't do that."

Hahn followed his first round-67 with a shaky 74 on Friday, but his one-under 141 was good enough to make the cut.

There has been nothing ordinary about Hahn's rookie year.

He tied for fourth at the Humana Challenge, which included a final-round 62, and has already earned $690,796 in five tournaments. That's more than he made in 77 career starts on the Tour.

Hahn became YouTube famous, of course, for his "Gangnam-style dance" on the par-three 16th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

The Jordan rules for golf

It might seem odd that Luke Donald and Michael Jordan ended up as friends. Donald grew up in England and Jordan is from North Carolina.

Donald, however, started his college career at Northwestern, north of Chicago, in 1997. And Jordan, as everyone knows, has always been fanatical about golf.

Donald and Jordan now live close to each other in Florida and Donald's wife is close with Jordan's fiancee.

Jordan, who just turned 50, is arguably the greatest basketball player of all time.

Donald was the No.1 golfer in the world, but now he has slipped to third behind Rory Mcllroy and Tiger Woods.

How many strokes does Donald give Jordan on the links?

"I usually give him six a side and that's usually not enough for him," Donald joked.

Matching up

Fredrik Jacobson, ranked No. 66 in the world, got into next week's Match Play event in Arizona after Brandt Snedeker withdrew this week because of a rib injury.

A top finish at Riviera might help Jacobson next week avoid Mcllroy or Woods.

"I haven't even thought about it," Jacobson said.

Maybe he will now?

Pack your bags

Notables missing the cut at two over included Graeme McDowell, Dustin Johnson, Charles Howell III (three over), Corey Pavin, Zach Johnson, Rory Sabbatini (four over) and Padraig Harrington and Bubba Watson (six over).

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