Chile’s Joaquin Niemann wins PGA’s Genesis Invitational
Chile's Joaquin Niemann feels Chilean, Latino love after victory
Joaquin Niemann could hear and sense a different vibe as he marched toward the The Genesis Invitational title Sunday. The vibe at the Riviera Country Club was different, more electric.
Let’s say it was a bit spicier than usual, more Latino, more Chilean, more invested in Chile’s Joaquin Niemann.
Niemann put on a show in Pacific Palisades, Calif. He practically owned the picturesque Riviera Country Club all weekend, leading The Genesis Invitational from start to finish.
In what was probably the best performance of his career, Niemann earned his second victory on the PGA Tour. He rewarded his rowdy and faithful fans with a victory, and they in turn showered him with their affection.
“Yeah, the fans, there was a lot of Latinos, a lot of Chileans, so you can feel the support of them,” he said afterward. “They were cheering differently than the people here.
“It was special to have them there and spend some time with them. They followed me the whole round and spent one minute with the trophy and (took) a picture. I think I made their day.”
Niemann became the first Latino to win on the PGA Tour during the 2021-2022 season. The previous best by a Latino this season was second by Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz in November at the World Wide Technology Championship in Riviera Maya, Mexico.
First Latino win on PGA tour this season
No Latino had won on the PGA Tour since Mexico’s Abraham Ancer won the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational on Aug. 8. Fellow Chilean Mito Pereira finished 15th.
“Everybody in Chile did a great job of helping me out, just start going around the world because I knew I was good in Chile,” he said. “I was winning tournaments, but obviously you want to be here on the PGA TOUR. You want to compete in America because America, you’ve got the best players in the world in junior and amateurs, everywhere.
“So I think being able to have the opportunity to come to the United States when I was probably 14 to start playing tournaments, competing with other players from my same age, I think that was something that I needed to do and it worked out well.”
Joaquin Niemann feels love from Latinos on PGA
Ortiz and Ancer finished tied for 39th at The Genesis Invitational. Colombian Sebastián Muñoz and Argentine Emiliano Grillo finished tied for 21st. Mexico’s Jhonattan Vegas finished 55th.
They all stuck around to congratulate and celebrate with Niemann at the 18th hole.
“They’re awesome,” Niemann said of the Latinos on the PGA Tour. “All the Latinos, it makes our life easier, more fun, more entertainment. Obviously we play 30 weeks a year. And out of those 30 weeks a year you want to spend as much fun as you can.
“We stay together, we play practice rounds together. We’re really unified all together and we have a great relationship. Having them here on 18, it was something really special for me. Obviously we got the tournament, but knowing that they’re there for me, waiting for me to see me receiving the trophy was something really special. I’m really thankful and happy because of the friends that I have.”
Niemann earned $2.16 million for the victory. He carded a 71 on the final round on Sunday to finish -19 under par, two shots better than Collin Morikawa and Cameron Young.
Tiger Woods makes it more special
His second victory in 101 PGA tournament appearances helped Niemann move into seventh in the FedEx Cup. The win was even more special, he said, because the legendary Tiger Woods was on hand to present him the winning trophy.
“It was awesome having Tiger there,” Niemann said. “I haven’t seen him since probably a year. Everybody knew what happened here one year ago, which was pretty sad. Being able to see him doing as well as he’s doing is awesome.
“It talks pretty well how good he is in any aspect of golf and life. He’s awesome, he’s one of my idols. I always watched him on TV and I still do. Having Tiger on site receiving the trophy is something special.”
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