Despite a two-stroke penalty and a marathon playoff, Joaquin Niemann is a LIV Golf champion.
The 25-year-old from Chile went wire-to-wire to claim his first win on the Saudi-backed circuit at the league’s 2024 opener at Mayakoba’s El Camaleon Golf Course in Mexico following a four-hole playoff in the dark against Sergio Garcia on Sunday. Niemann, who shot a blistering 12-under 59 in the first round, made one final clutch to seal the deal for his first win since joining the league.
“Yeah, it was a lot of different days,” Niemann said. “I think it gave me more energy to go out and fight and prove myself that it’s not going to bother me. I’m pretty happy that the day ended up this way, especially how the morning started. I think dinner is going to taste a little bit better than breakfast.”
Few players have played more than Niemann in recent months as the Torque GC captain has attempted to raise his Official World Golf Ranking (No. 66) in order to gain access to the major championships in 2024. Niemann finished fifth at the Australian PGA Championship and then won the Australian Open at the tail end of 2023 before a T-4 finish at last month’s Dubai Desert Classic on the DP World Tour.
“It’s hard to tell, especially in this game which is hard,” Niemann said of his expectations entering the week. “But yeah, I was playing great. I was being really confident on the golf course and hitting my shots. I was more excited than anything to start the season, to start playing on LIV and start playing for my teammates. I was just excited to get started.”
— LIV Golf (@livgolf_league) February 5, 2024
The newly formed expansion team Legion XIII, captained by Jon Rahm, won the team title by four shots at 24 under, followed by 2023 team champions Crushers GC (20 under) and Niemann’s Torque GC (17 under). Rahm also finished T-3 on the individual leaderboard at 10 under alongside Stinger GC’s Dean Burmester.
“It’s very nice in a day in which in any normal tournament I probably would have been upset at my finish to actually have something to celebrate,” said Rahm, “and that is one of the big reasons why I decided to transition, to share the stage with those three guys, to share the golf course with all the other teams and compete for something else is what it’s all about. It means a lot.”
“We all come out here pretty much as…