Monday Finish: Niemann makes history at The Greenbrier
First winner from Chile; third youngest International winner in nearly a century
September 16, 2019
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
Joaquin Niemann's winning highlights from The Greenbrier
A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier, the 2019-20 lid-lifter, featured the first hole-in-one of the season (Sungjae Im, 15th hole in round one); the first sub-60 score (Kevin Chappell, 59, second round); and the first-ever PGA TOUR winner from Chile, Joaquin Niemann. Oh, and by the way, he’s also the only player other than Seve Ballesteros and Rory McIlroy to be born outside the United States and win on TOUR before turning 21 in the last 95 years.
Welcome to the Monday Finish.
THREE KEYS TO SUCCESS
1. Niemann loves The Greenbrier. It’s not just that he finished T5 there last year, and T29 in 2017, but that he closed with a 64 each time. He shot the same score Sunday.
2. He jumped into a three-way tie for the lead with Scottie Scheffler and Robby Shelton with a second-round 62, his career low on TOUR, and never looked back. The biggest shot of the week may have been his eagle from 51 feet, 6 inches at the 12th hole in round two.
3. He putted great, leading the tournament in Strokes Gained: Putting (+8.8) for the first time in his career, with most of his production on the back nine. It was on the inward nine that he bit off +7.6 of that gaudy SG: Putting total, making double the length of putts than he did on the front, and requiring four fewer strokes on the greens.
Shot of the Day
Joaquin Niemann's 22-foot birdie putt on No. 18 for the Shot of the Day
Familiarity breeds birdies: As with any endeavor, youth on the PGA TOUR is an advantage (strength, flexibility, resilience) and a disadvantage (not knowing where to stay or eat, which way a putt breaks, or even how to get to the first tee). Niemann has had to feel his way along, and maybe it’s no surprise that his breakthrough happened at The Greenbrier, which he first played at age 18 when he was the top-ranked amateur in the world. “I just never thought this moment was going to come,” he said. For more on Niemann’s big win, click here.
Hovland looks like he’s next: Viktor Hovland (T10) of Norway climbed 29 spots with a final-round 64, which also marked his record-tying 17th straight round in the 60s on TOUR. (He will skip the Sanderson Farms Championship and have to wait at least a week to potentially pull ahead of record co-holder Bob Estes.) Hovland also continues to be a fast finisher, with closing rounds of 64 (Greenbrier), 65, 64, 65, 64 in his last five starts, an indication that, like Niemann, the 21-year-old Hovland is learning fast. “I think one of the reasons I’ve been playing so well on Sunday,” he said, “is getting more familiar with the courses and just getting comfortable.” For more on Hovland, click here.
Werenski has had a wild ride: Watching Richy Werenski battle over the last few months has been dizzying. First, he finished 126th in the FedExCup, just 2 points shy of making the Playoffs. Then he finished T24 in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, becoming the last player, along with D.J. Trahan, to earn his way back to the TOUR through that avenue. Werenski wasted no time in taking advantage, shooting 67-65-65-69 at The Greenbrier to finish T3 with Brian Harman, Harris English and Nate Lashley. It was Werenski’s fourth top-three finish on TOUR; he lost a playoff at the 2017 Barracuda Championship, and last season finished T2 at the Barbasol Championship and T3 at the Mayakoba Golf Classic.
Richy Werenski's 24-foot birdie putt at The Greenbrier
“Next year I’m going again.” – Niemann on off-roading with pal Carlos Ortiz at The Greenbrier
“What a fantastic win for Joaquin at The Greenbrier. I’m really proud of him, and it’s a wonderful start to his season. I’m looking forward to more of his great play.” – International Presidents Cup Captain Ernie Els, in a text message to PGA TOUR officials
“Just trying to warm up on the driving range and … fell over and couldn’t move for a while.” – Joseph Bramlett (71, T14), on back issues that sidelined him for much of the last five years.
“Surreal.” – Kevin Chappell, who shot a second-round 59, the 11th sub-60 score in PGA TOUR history, after missing last season due to major back surgery.
Still speechless. Proud to be the first player from Chile to win on the @pgatour. Thank you to Dean, my coaches, family, fans, sponsors and the teams at @the_greenbrier and @amilitarytribute for all of the support this week! 🇨🇱 🇨🇱 pic.twitter.com/vhs8gr6EYE— joaconiemann (@joaconiemann) September 16, 2019