Detroit – When you win on the PGA Tour, the expectations increase.
When you win the PGA Tour at 20, expectations soar, as Joaquin Niemann learned after winning his first Greenbrier title in 2019. He was 20 years, 10 months and eight days old – the only players to win on the PGA Tour. at a younger age in the past 50+ years are Tiger Woods (twice), Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth and Matthew Wolff.
Niemann hasn’t returned to the winner’s circle since, but he’s been second twice this year, including losing in the playoffs to Harris English in the inaugural Champions Tournament in Hawaii.
He was the co-leader after 54 holes at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, at 14 with Troy Merritt following a Saturday 68 which, for the third day in a row, did not include any boguey.
The key at Detroit Golf Club, players throughout the week said, is to stay patient – and the birdies will come. Staying patient has been key for Niemann the past two years – he knows another victory will come, if not Sunday night in Detroit, then elsewhere.
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“I think everyone is going to have their own moment, and I had my moment pretty early on,” said Niemann, 22. “I went to the playoffs in Hawaii, I finished second the following week as well. But I took it pretty easily, I just wanted to keep going, I knew when everything was going well I would win again.
“So I just didn’t want to put myself in that stress. Yeah, I know if tomorrow I have a good day I can win, and if I don’t it will be just another week I could have. my chance to win. “
He could become the first player to win the PGA Tour without making a bug in nearly two years. His bogey-less streak was actually 59 holes, including his last five at the Travelers Championship last week.
Side note: A man who won six times at a younger age than Niemann when he landed number 1: Horton Smith, the late chief golf professional of the Detroit Golf Club.
CBS’s coverage of the Rocket Mortgage Classic final round begins Sunday at 3 p.m., but will be preceded by a one-hour special on the tournament’s first John Shippen National Invitational.
The tournament, featuring 20 men and 12 women competing for the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour exemptions, was created by RMC’s marketing wing, Intersport, promote diversity in the game, while opening up opportunities for top black golfers, amateur and professional, without grand tour status.
The men’s event was won by Tim O’Neal, who received a week-long sponsorship deal from Rocket Mortgage (he missed the cup). The women’s event was won by Shasta Averyhardt of Flint and Anita Uwadia, who secured an exemption for the two-player team event, the Great Lakes Bay Invitational of the LPGA Tour in Midland, scheduled for later this month. -this. A second LPGA Tour bye went to 17-year-old Amari Avery, who won a three-hole shootout for a spot at the October Cognizant Founders Cup in Orlando, Fla.
The Shippen, which was named after the country’s first black golf professional and included a business summit for recent high school and college graduates looking to get into golf, was so well received by PGA officials Tour that there are plans to create additional Shippen tournaments in other PGA Tour cities.
There are currently two black players on the LPGA Tour and four on the PGA Tour.
Fleas and divots
►PLAN OF THE DAY: Easy call, when there is an ace. Troy Merritt, already leading the tournament when he rose to 11th by 218 yards, par-3, selected the 5 iron and jumped it into the hole to extend his lead to three strokes at the time. . It was his first ace on the PGA Tour, and, he said, his first since a laid back tour with pals at his home in Iowa four or five years ago. It was the second ace of the week (Scott Brown, 15th hole, Saturday) and the fourth in the tournament’s three-year history.
►HOLE OF THE DAY: # 15 – The shortest hole on the course, it was one of the nastiest on Saturday. Playing just 164 yards, players struggled all day whether the wind was blowing or not. The hole was played above par and is the fourth most difficult on the course. With the pin back to the right, the players were careful not to be long and therefore short themselves. But coming up short hasn’t been a picnic, whether putting or chipping – players struggled to get there. There were only seven birdies on Saturday, the second smallest for any hole of the day (six on No.11, another par 3). Sean O’Hair doubled down to get out of the discord. In total over the first three laps, the centerpiece of AREA 3-1-3 ranks the ninth toughest hole.
►STAT OF THE DAY: 68 – Rickie Fowler’s score, tied for his lowest fourth round of the season, over 67 laps. This tells you everything you need to know about the struggles he endured, after missing the Masters and the US Open, and falling to 95th place in the world rankings after missing the cup at the Travelers Championship last week. in Connecticut. But there is brightness to be seen, as he finished tied for 11th at Memorial, after finishing tied for eighth in the PGA Championship. A good lap on Sunday could put him in the running for his first top five in more than two years.
►QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I just attribute it to basketball. You know, as a shooter, when you go through fits, shooters shoot. Putters have to putt, keep hitting putts. You have to do them on the golf course, not necessarily on the green. You just have to keep that confidence knowing that they are going to come in at some point and luckily we have reached that corner. “- Troy Merritt, 54 hole co-leader, in first row won in putting this week. He ranks 59th on the PGA Tour this season in that statistic.
►MONITOR THE PREMISES: Ryan Brehm (Traverse City / Michigan State) – He snapped a streak of seven consecutive missed cups on the PGA Tour (and eight in total, if you count a Korn Ferry Tour stop) with a dandy in the third round 67, but he couldn’t keep the momentum going on moving day, settling for a 1-over 73. After birding each of the four par 5s on Friday, he was even par on those four holes on Saturday. Willie Mack III (Flint) – He made the cut on numbers, for his first cut made in three PGA Tour starts (he will also play next week at the John Deere Classic), and he was down 3 under after 72. His four birdies have been cleared. by four bogueys. Three of the bogeys were set up by stray drives.
►ZONE 3-1-3 UPDATE: Rocket Mortgage has pledged a charitable donation of $ 313,000 if a player scores 3-1-3 on numbers 14-16, at any point in the tournament. The feat has not been accomplished in the tournament’s three years, but there is an outside chance of entering the final round on Sunday. Scott Brown has the best odds, given he won No. 15 on Friday (triggering a $ 25,000 charitable donation); he needs an eagle in 14 and a birdie in 16. Sean O’Hair and Vincent Whaley eagle on the 14th and did a birdie on the 16th.
Twitter: @ tonypaul1984