Essential Golf: A passion for the Game

Putting Allows Joaquin Niemann to Make History for Chile

Joaquin Niemann had been visualizing a career as a professional golfer since he was a young boy, but it wasn’t until he improved his ability to visualize holing more putts that he became a winner on the PGA TOUR.

Joaquin Niemann, just 20 years old, won the season-opening TOUR event, A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier, thanks to the one ingredient previously missing from his skill set. He putted poorly in his rookie season, ranking 141st overall, but at the Old White TPC at The Greenbrier, he poured in putts from everywhere. He led the field in Strokes Gained: Putting by nearly nine shots (+8.788) and capped a closing 6-under 64 with a 22-foot birdie putt, one of six birdies in his final nine holes to pull away for a tournament record-tying six-stroke victory.

When that last putt disappeared, Joaquin Niemann punched the air twice and then slapped his putter with satisfaction.

“Normally, I’m not really too excited any time. I normally never do fist pumps and those things,” said Joaquin Niemann, the top-ranked amateur in the world for 44 weeks before turning pro last April. “The emotions in that moment on the last couple holes were just crazy. I was just thinking of the first win I made when I was a kid, and I was dreaming of this moment.”

With a 21-under 259 total, one off Stuart Appleby’s tournament record, Joaquin Niemann became the first player from Chile to win on the PGA TOUR, and he joined Rory McIlroy and Seve Ballesteros as the only foreign-born players to capture a TOUR event before turning 21. Niemann’s victory, combined with Matthew Wolff’s win in July at the 3M Open, gave the TOUR its first set of multiple winners younger than 21 in a calendar year since 1931 when Tom Creavy, Ralph Guldahl and Chuck Kocsis triumphed.

“Yeah, it’s been unbelievable … for my whole country. They were watching me,” Joaquin Niemann said. “Really happy to get the trophy for my family, for my coach, and everyone back there in Chile. Just unbelievable. Can’t get better.”

This article first appeared in the PGA TOUR December 2019-May 2020 issue, which can be read here.

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