September 16, 2019
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
Joaquin Niemann's Round 4 highlights from The Greenbrier
Welcome to the new Stats Insider. This new feature, which will run each Monday on PGATOUR.COM, will use ShotLink data and historical info to give you a deeper look at the previous week’s tournament.
This was a good week to debut. An exciting young player stepped into the winner’s circle for the first time. Here’s a look at some of the numbers behind Joaquin Niemann’s win at A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier.
Niemann not only became the first player from Chile to win on the PGA TOUR. He’s just the eighth player under the age of 21 to win on the PGA TOUR since World War II. You’ve probably heard of the other seven: Raymond Floyd, Seve Ballesteros, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Matthew Wolff.
In the last 95 years, only three players born outside the United States have won on the PGA TOUR before turning 21: Ballesteros, McIlroy and Niemann. This also is the first year since 1931 that multiple players aged 20 or younger have won on the PGA TOUR. Wolff won earlier in the year at the 3M Open.
It’s always easy to say Monday morning, but perhaps we should have seen this coming. Niemann’s game has been trending in the right direction, and The Greenbrier has been a special place in his career.
Niemann was 158th in the FedExCup after missing the cut at the PGA Championship in May, and still outside the top 150 when the calendar turned to June. A strong summer allowed him to advance to the BMW Championship in his first season as a PGA TOUR member, though. He was 67th in the final FedExCup standings.
After the PGA, he missed just one cut in his last 11 starts of the 2019 season. His worst finish in that span was T31. Niemann finished T5 at both the Travelers Championship and Rocket Mortgage Classic and T10 at the John Deere Classic.
Players have to go low to succeed in the summer months, and that’s exactly what he did. It continued last week, where he shot 65-62-68-64 to win by six.
Niemann leads the PGA TOUR in rounds of 66 or lower and rounds of 65 or lower since June 20, the first round of this year’s Travelers Championship.
Most rounds of 66 or lower since June 20:
Joaquin Niemann, 14
Collin Morikawa, 12
Brian Harman, 11
Viktor Hovland, 9
Most rounds of 65 or lower since June 20:
Joaquin Niemann, 9
Viktor Hovland, 6
Webb Simpson, 6
So what changed in Niemann’s game since the mid-point of last season? As usual, it was the putter. Here’s a look at Niemann’s average strokes gained per round through the PGA and after leaving Bethpage Black.
|Strokes Gained per round||Thru PGA||After PGA||Difference|
There were slight upticks in his play Off-the-Tee and Approach, but the biggest difference was with his putting. He was 204th in Strokes Gained: Putting (out of 210 players) after the PGA Championship. From the PGA through last week, he’s averaged +0.47 strokes gained per round on the greens, an improvement of more than a stroke per round.
Niemann led the Greenbrier field in Strokes Gained: Putting with a career-high +8.8 strokes on the greens. That was three strokes more than his previous career-high (+5.8, 2018 Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide). This was the first time in his career that he led a tournament in Strokes Gained: Putting.
He made five putts from outside 20 feet at The Old White TPC. His previous career-high in a single tournament was three.
Niemann made just three putts from outside 25 feet in 40 ShotLink-measured rounds from the start of last season through the PGA. He’s made 19 putts from outside 25 feet in 44 measured rounds since the PGA Championship.
He’s also performing better on short putts.
|Putting from 4-8 feet||Holed||Attempts||Percentage|
He finished second at The Greenbrier in make percentage from 4-8 feet (among players with at least 15 attempts).
Niemann has been competing at The Greenbrier since he was an 18-year-old amateur. In fact, it’s the only tournament on the PGA TOUR that he’s played three times. He’s shot a final-round 64 all three times. In those three Sundays, Niemann has combined to make 18 birdies, one eagle and just two bogeys.
Last year, he shot a final-round 64 to finish T5 and earn his PGA TOUR card for the 2018-19 season. His third Sunday 64 at The Old White TPC earned him his first PGA TOUR win. He birdied six holes on the back nine to pull away from the field.
Niemann is the only player in tournament history with three final rounds of 64 or lower.
It should go without saying that Niemann’s 64.0 final-round scoring average is the lowest in tournament history. He holds that mark by a fairly wide margin. Only four players who’ve played at least three Sundays at A Military Tribute have a final-round scoring average under 67.
Low final-round scoring average at The Old White TPC:
Joaquin Niemann, 64.0
Alex Cejka, 65.7
Brandt Snedeker, 65.7
Ted Potter, Jr., 66.5
(minimum 3 rounds)
Ten of Niemann’s 12 career rounds at The Old White TPC have been in the 60s, and six of them have been 65 or lower. That’s two more than anyone else in the last three years. Kevin Na and Robert Streb are second on that list with four rounds of 65 or lower at The Old White TPC since 2017.
Niemann has 16 rounds of 65 or lower in his PGA TOUR career. Six of those 16 (38%) have come at A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier.