“The one thing I just need, maybe, is to win a tournament and get into the Playoffs.”
Pretty high hopes for a 19-year old from Chile. But when you’ve been the #1 ranked amateur in the world, then start your PGA Tour career with three top-tens in your first five starts, and earn full PGA Tour status in just eight starts, well, the bar is understandably a little higher.
It’s been a bit of whirlwind for the teenager from Santiago, beginning with a tie for sixth in his first event as a pro, the Valero Texas Open. Three weeks later he would finish eight in Texas at the Fort Worth Invitational, and sixth again the following week at Jack Nicklaus’ event, The Memorial. Another fifth place finish three weeks later at the Greenbrier, and Niemann’s card for next season was locked up.
How does one go from an amateur golfer, albeit the top ranked one in the world, to earning full Tour status and accruing four top-tens in an eight week span? Simple, according to Joaquin, “I just try to be the same player I was when I was an amateur, just try to do the same stuff and enjoy the game.” Ah, the innocence of youth.
Another reminder of his age; his PGA Tour profile lists his desired walk-up song as “Despacito.”
Despite his age though, he holds himself with a maturity rarely seen in such a young man. Not one to get overly boisterous or show too much raw emotion out on the course, he recognizes what a special place he is at in his career, “After getting my card for next year, I think I feel really relieved. So I think I just try to go out there and enjoy every second I’m out there on the course.”
Well said, young man. Especially when considering that English is not his native language. While following his practice round on Tuesday I didn’t hear Joaquin speak one word of english; all Spanish. It’s just one more thing to be in awe of while watching this young whippersnapper. Already up to the 167th spot in the World Golf Rankings, and charging, he really seems to be just scratching the surface. If he’s able to get that win he alluded to earlier, his rise to fame may be here sooner than he imagined. And if that’s the case, these Despacito lyrics might just be playing in his head as he picks up the Canadian Open Trophy.
“Comin’ over in my direction
So thankful for that, it’s such a blessin’, yeah
Turn every situation into heaven, yeah
Oh-oh, you are
My sunrise on the darkest day
Got me feelin’ some kind of way”
Bottom line: Joaquin is no joke. This kid is for real.
** Niemann shot a second straight 67 today to sit in a tie for 6th at 10-under-par. He will be in one of the final pairings tomorrow; tune in for updates.