It was an up-and-down week for Joaquin Niemann. He shot 59 on Friday in the first round at LIV Mayakoba in one of the best professional golf rounds in recent memory. Niermann became the heavy favorite to win the first LIV Golf event of the year, and that continued on Saturday when he shot a 1-under 70.
But that changed between Round 2 and Round 3 when he was assessed a two-stroke penalty for a bad drop. Despite all of that, Niemann, who made a clutch birdie on the 16th hole in his final round, closed out a 1-under 70 (an actual one this time) on Sunday to get into a playoff with Sergio Garcia.
The playoff was a marathon four-hole event with the duo playing the 18th at Mayakoba four consecutive times. The last one was almost completely in the dark, but it was the decider as Niemann dropped a birdie putt to finish off Garcia and end his wild week with a $4 million win.
The first thing he said that was caught on camera just before his interview? “I’m not in the majors.”
“Freaking awesome,” he went on to say. “I’ve been seeing this for the last couple of weeks. I’m just ready. I want to win majors, but I have to get in first.”
Garcia finished runner-up and Jon Rahm, whose debut was the most anticipated in the league’s short history, shot 1-under 70 on Sunday to finish in third place. It could have been a lot better. Rahm started slow in his final round on Sunday and played the first 12 holes at Mayakoba in even par before making three birdies in a row on the back nine to surge to the top of the leaderboard.
It looked as if Rahm was going to do what Rahm does, which is close out golf tournament after golf tournament. But the last two holes did not go well; Garcia finished at 12 under ahead of him and Niemann tied him up.
The No. 3 player in the world was tied for the lead at 12 under with two holes to go and hit his tee shot on No. 17 into a hazard. He made a bogey there and made another bogey on the par-4 18th hole. Rahm missed out on the playoff between Garcia and Niemann by two shots.
Though his Legion XIII team ran away with the team portion of the event, Rahm said in an interview just after his finish that he needed five minutes to cool off. Regardless, Legion XIII was dominant. With all four player scores counting in the final round, Legion XIII shot 14 under to beat the Crushers by four shots and Torque GC by seven.
Rahm’s 70 was buoyed by Tyrrell Hatton’s 64 and Caleb Surratt’s 66.
Legion XIII takes home $3 million for their victory. Rahm will play again next week at LIV Las Vegas in what should be an interesting week for the league.