Masters omens favour Niemann’s hopes

Joaquin Niemann (50/1 – to win the Masters) held off a final-day challenge from Collin Morikawa and Cameron Young to seal a wire-to-wire victory at the Genesis Invitational on Sunday.

The Chilean claimed a two-shot victory at Riviera Golf Club after a final round of 71 saw him finish on 19-under-par and just one shot shy of equalling the tournament’s lowest 72-hole total.

The 23-year-old, whose only previous victory on the PGA Tour came at the 2019 Greenbrier Classic, also became the youngest winner of the Genesis Invitational since Harry Cooper triumphed at the inaugural staging of the event in 1926 – while he is the first wire-to-wire champion in over half a century.

It was certainly a good week for Niemann, who carded back-to-back scores of 63 during his opening two rounds in California, and he was delighted with how he handled being out in front.

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“Obviously the first two days are different than the weekend,” Niemann told reporters. “I was more surprised by myself or how good I handled myself, my attitude on the course during the weekend.

“I know I didn’t play my best golf like I did the first two days, but I was impressed with the way I handled.

“And, yeah, looking back I think a couple tournaments ago that I didn’t win, I think my attitude wasn’t the same as this here, so I think that is one big change that I take a real positive.”

The victory has also seen Niemann move to a career high of number 20 in the world rankings, while the omens are good for the South American to mount a challenge at the Masters in April.

The likes of Bubba Watson, Mike Weir, Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson having all gone on to win at Augusta after triumphing at Riviera – Watson and Weir doing so in the same year.

Niemann’s victory was made all the more impressive, as the top 10 players in the world rankings were all competing in the event, including Morikawa (12/1 – to win Masters), who had to settle for a tie for second alongside Young.

There were also top-10 finishes for Viktor Hovland (25/1 – to win Masters), Justin Thomas (12/1), Scottie Scheffler (28/1) and Rory McIlroy (14/1), but there is no doubting the week belonged to Niemann.

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Author: Paula Allen