Joaquin Nie­mann

Meet the PGA Tour rookie who turned pro in April and ended the sea­son with more top 10s than Ser­gio

Today's Golfer (UK) - - FIRST TEE -

What’s his story?

Al­ready Chile’s high­est-ranked golfer, Nie­mann only turned pro six months ago, but has since joined Jor­dan Spi­eth (2013) and Jon Rahm (2016) as the only play­ers in the last decade to earn their PGA Tour card with­out go­ing through Q School or the Tour. He did so af­ter mak­ing just eight starts and net­ting top 10s in half of them. “Im­pres­sive,” was Tiger’s re­sponse, and that was just af­ter watch­ing him prac­tice!

So, he’s pretty good then?

Fred Cou­ples couldn’t stop singing his praises when they played to­gether at the Mas­ters. A week later, Nie­mann chose to for­feit a spe­cial ex­emp­tion to play in this year’s US Open and The Open by turn­ing pro at the Texas Open. It was a sac­ri­fice worth mak­ing – he fin­ished sixth and walked away with $223,200.

How’s he fared since?

On just his fifth start, he led the Me­mo­rial Tour­na­ment at Jack’s place af­ter fir­ing an open­ing round seven-un­der 65. Though he slipped back into a tie for sixth, that was enough to se­cure spe­cial tem­po­rary mem­ber­ship on the PGA Tour for the rest of this year. He then traded that in for a full 2019 mem­ber­ship just six weeks later af­ter post­ing his best-ever fin­ish – tied fifth – at The Green­brier.

Was his am­a­teur ca­reer just as im­pres­sive?

Twenty three wins sug­gests so. He made his Ma­jor de­but at the 2017 US Open, aged 18, and won the Latin

Amer­ica Am­a­teur Cham­pi­onship by five shots to se­cure en­try into The Mas­ters. By the time he turned pro, he had been ranked as the No.1 am­a­teur in the world for 44

con­sec­u­tive weeks.

Where did he fin­ish in the Fedex Cup?

He didn’t. Rules dic­tate that spe­cial tem­po­rary mem­bers are in­el­i­gi­ble to com­pete in the Fedex Cup Play­offs. He did, how­ever, end the 2018 sea­son with three missed cuts from 12 starts and $1,209,957 in on­course earn­ings.

What he says?

“I think af­ter turn­ing pro, it’s been a good few months. I’ve been play­ing re­ally good golf and also had a lot of good fin­ishes, but I just need to keep grind­ing. Ser­gio is the one who has helped me the most. I’ve learned a lot from him. I feel like a vet­eran right now, like a Tour player. I know I can beat th­ese guys and am just go­ing to wait for my week and try to win.”

Five things you didn’t know...

1 Nie­mann is try­ing to be­come the sixth player since 1900 to win on the PGA Tour as a teenager. He turns 20 on Novem­ber 7.

2 He was sup­posed to be play­ing col­lege golf at the Uni­ver­sity of South Florida this year, but was re­fused en­try af­ter fail­ing an English lit­er­acy exam.

3 In his first ap­pear­ance on the PGA Tour as an am­a­teur, Nie­mann made the cut at The Green­brier and fin­ished in a tie for 29th.

4 He be­came the youngest player since Ser­gio Gar­cia in 1999 to ac­cept spe­cial tem­po­rary mem­ber­ship on the PGA Tour. 5 Along­side spon­sor­ship deals to play Ping clubs and wear adi­das cloth­ing, Nie­mann is an am­bas­sador for… Chilean av­o­ca­dos.

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