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