Merrick has played seven events in the new wrap-around season, with his tie for 19th at the Phoenix Open his only top-25 finish in those seven starts.
He will have a strong field trying to take the title from him. Leading the way will be world No. 4 Justin Rose, who is making his season debut. In all, 16 of the top-30 players in this week's world rankings are slated to play this week.
Seven of the first 10 winners of the season are also in the field at Riviera, and that group is led by three-time winner Jimmy Walker. Fred Couples, a two- time winner of this event, and last year's NCAA Individual champion, Max Homa, will also compete this week.
With the Accenture Match Play being next week, several European Tour players have made the trip to Southern California. Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Victor Dubuisson, Joost Luiten and Francesco Molinari are among the European Tour players in the field this week.
Golf Channel will have coverage Thursday and Friday, as well as early coverage on the weekend before handing off to CBS in the afternoon.
The PGA and European Tours will be in Arizona next week for the World Golf Championship - Accenture Match Play Championship. Matt Kuchar earned a 2 & 1 win over 2012 champion Hunter Mahan last year.
AFRICA OPEN, East London Golf Club, Eastern Cape, South Africa - The European Tour plays its penultimate event in South Africa this week with the Africa Open.
Darren Fichardt returns to the scene of his fourth European Tour title this week. Fichardt and Jaco Van Zyl were tied for the lead heading to the final round last year.
Fichardt closed with a 71 to Van Zyl's 73 to win by two over his countryman and Gregory Bourdy, who posted a 2-under 70 in the final round to grab a share of second.
With the Accenture Match Play on the slate next week, several of the top European Tour members are either playing in the United States this week or taking the week off. Due to that, Bourdy, who is ranked 107th in the world, is the highest ranked player in the field this week.
Golf Channel will have coverage of all four rounds.
After the Match Play Championship next week, the tour returns for its final event in South Africa with the Tshwane Open, which Dawie Van Der Walt won by two strokes over Fichardt last year.
ISPS HANDA WOMEN'S AUSTRALIAN OPEN, The Victoria Golf Club, Victoria, Australia - The LPGA Tour returns to action this week as the tour is down under for the Women's Australian Open.
Last year, Jiyai Shin closed with a 1-under at Royal Canberra Golf Club to win by two strokes over Yani Tseng. The win was the 11th of Shin's career on the LPGA Tour.
Entering the final round, then amateur Lydia Ko shared the lead with Shin, but stumbled to a 3-over 76 to fall four back. Ko and Tseng are in the field this week, but Shin and world No. 1 Inbee Park are both not in the field.
Local favorite Karrie Webb is one of five players ranked in the top 10 in the world playing. Also in that group are Suzann Pettersen, Stacy Lewis and Ko, who are ranked two, three and four in the rankings, as well as No. 9 Lexi Thompson.
Golf Channel will have mostly tape-delayed coverage this week.
The LPGA heads to Thailand next week for the Honda LPGA Thailand, where Park rallied to win by one over Ariya Jutanugarn last year.
ACE GROUP CLASSIC, TwinEagles Golf Club (Talon Course) Naples, Florida - The brief two event swing in Florida comes to a close for the Champions Tour this week.
The tour moved to Naples, where Bernhard Langer will defend his title. Langer fired a course-record tying 10-under 62 in the opening round, then cruised to a wire-to-wire victory.
The win was Langer's second at this event and 17th of his Champions Tour career. He added another win later last season, and collected his 19th tour title at the season-opening event at Hualalai.
Michael Allen, Duffy Waldorf and Chien Soon Lu, the top three combatants from last week's Allianz Championship are all in the field at TwinEagles, as are the top six finishers from this event last year.
Golf Channel will cover all three rounds this weekend.
After a month off, the Champions Tour will return to action in California with the Toshiba Classic, where David Frost cruised to a 5-stroke win last year.
PACIFIC RUBIALES COLOMBIA CHAMPIONSHIP, Bogota Country Club, Bogota, Colombia - The Web.com Tour kicks off its season with the first of four straight events outside the United States.
First up is the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship, where Patrick Cantlay rolled to a 4-stroke win last year.
Cantlay's total of 266 smashed the previous record of 273, which Steve Pate and Aaron Watkins set in 2010.
Three of the top five from last year's final leaderboard have moved on to the PGA Tour, but Shane Bertsch and Alexandre Rocha will be back at Bogota Country Club again this week.
There is no television for this event.
After a two-week break, the Web.com Tour returns to action with the Chile Classic, where Kevin Kisner beat Edward Loar and Brice Garnett by one shot last year.