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Merrick (65) looking to end drought

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ORLANDO, Fla. – It’s been 13 months since John Merrick’s victory at last year’s Northern Trust Open. In the time since, he’s competed in 28 PGA Tour events with just a single top-10 result.

That could be about to change.

Merrick posted a 7-under 65 in the opening round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, thanks to an eight-birdie, one-bogey performance on Thursday.

It left him three strokes behind leader Adam Scott, tied for second place alongside Ryo Ishikawa.

His round was buoyed largely by a strong ball-striking day. In making four consecutive birdies on holes 4 through 7, he needed to make putts from just 3, 6, 1 and 4 feet.

This was Merrick’s first round in the 60s since Feb. 2, a span of nine total rounds.