LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Joaquin Niemann’s (AFP pic below) gritty even par 71 was enough to give the 23-year-old Chilean his second US PGA Tour title on Sunday, a two-shot triumph in the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club.
Niemann couldn’t match the fireworks of the back-to-back 63s he shot on Thursday and Friday.
But his 19-under total of 265 gave him a two-stroke victory over world number two Collin Morikawa and United States (US) rookie Cameron Young.
Morikawa surged up the leaderboard with an impressive six-under par 65 for 267, while Young, who started the day three adrift, carded a one-under 70.
“To be honest it was a really long day today,” admitted Niemann, who was feeling the pressure to complete a wire-to-wire victory and claim a second career title after winning at The Greenbrier in 2019. “I’m so happy it’s finally done.”
Niemann could finally smile as he accepted the trophy from tournament host Tiger Woods.
“He’s one of my idols, I always watched him on TV and I still do,” Niemann said of 15-time major champion Woods, who fulfilled his hosting duties but didn’t play as he continues to recover from devastating leg injuries suffered in a car crash last year.
The field featured all of the world’s top-10 ranked players, which also made the victory special, Niemann said.
“It proves I can play with the top guys, I can be up there in the world ranking,” he said. “I think it’s going to give me a lot of confidence for what is coming next.”
Niemann, who had already broken the tournament’s 36-hole and 54-hole scoring records, had a chance to break the 37-year-old 72-hole record of 264 set by Lanny Wadkins back in 1985.
But even though he led all week, there were some tense moments on Sunday – starting with a birdie miss from within four feet at the opening hole.
He bogeyed the seventh, where he was in a fairway bunker and three-putted. But he made the turn even for the day after a seven-foot birdie putt at the eighth – where Young bogeyed to fall back.
Niemann missed another short birdie attempt at the 10th, then chipped in for eagle at the 11th to reach 21-under – and take a five-shot lead over playing partner Young.
But back-to-back bogeys at the 14th and 15th – where his five-foot putt for par lipped out – saw Niemann’s lead dwindle again.