Joaquin Niemann secured his second PGA Tour title and became the first wire-to-wire champion in Los Angeles since 1969 at the Genesis Invitational.
The Chilean is also the second youngest winner of this event after he kept his composure in check to record a two-stroke victory over Collin Morikawa and Cameron Young.
Niemann’s Peerless Opening
With every member of the top 10 in the Official World Golf Rankings having committed to Riviera Country Club, this was undoubtedly the tastiest event of the 2022 season to date.
Jordan Spieth, who has seemingly rediscovered the magic touch that abandoned him for all too long, had set the clubhouse lead alongside Scottie Scheffler following the morning groupings at five-under.
Unbelievably, Niemann posted a pair of 63s before the duo returned for their second round, an intimidating welcome back to an already volatile golf course.
During the Chilean’s first round, he accumulated nine birdies and recorded only one blemish, on the par-4 12th.
The following morning, he eagled the par-5 1st before securing another seven birdies but again, parting away with one as he bogeyed the short par-4 10th.
Young, the first subject of our Rising Stars: Spotlight on series, modestly continued to chop into Niemann’s lead as the top two were heads and shoulders above the rest of the field.
At the halfway point, Niemann had set the 36-hole record as his 16-under-par was closely followed by Young’s 14-under standing.
Field Chasing Niemann
Four players shot 65 during the third round as the leading pair failed to find the stride that they effortlessly demonstrated across the previous 48 hours.
The work had effectively been done for Niemann; without a complete breakdown, victory was potentially already sealed.
His third round 68 further bolstered his healthy advantage, after picking up four birdies and one eagle – on the par-4 10th that he bogeyed the previous day.
Three bogeys ignited hope – albeit minor – for the field, as the 23-year-old played the final eight holes of the day at two-over-par.
After the conclusion of the third round, Niemann held a three-stroke lead over Young and a six-stroke lead over Viktor Hovland, who was occupying third position.
Morikawa’s Late Charge
After running off with the lead from the 10th hole onwards during the first round, it was never going to be an easy task for Niemann to close out his second PGA Tour title.
We saw it recently with Seamus Power muscling his way out early, it can be very dangerous with such an advantage – considering how mentally taxing the sport of golf is.
The Chilean, however, started his final round consistently, parring the opening six holes before giving one back on the 7th.
Make no mistake, this could have initiated a slight wobble, but the 23-year-old truly demonstrated his maturity as he bounced back with an immediate birdie at the par-4 8th.
Young, who was only three strokes behind the Chilean after 54 holes, birdied the opening hole as he looked to mount early pressure onto the leader.
Despite his best efforts, a string of six pars followed by a bogey halted his momentum, as the lead was as minor as one-stroke at one point.
Morikawa, who has become synonymous at finding his flow at the right time, completed the front nine in 33 before supporting his strong start with an eagle at the 10th.
Niemann eagled the par-5 11th, which added another layer of comfort before a lapse in concentration resulted in successive bogeys at the 14th and 15th.
Despite Young holing out on the 15th and Morikawa posting 65 – incidentally tying the day’s best score alongside Jon Rahm – Niemann held on for a famous victory and a platform to launch further success upon.
As a consequence of his majestic week in LA, the Chilean has moved to 20th in the Official World Golf Rankings, a career high.
The conclusion of the Genesis Invitational signifies the end of the east coast swing, as the PGA Tour head to Florida for the Honda Classic next week.
You can read our preview for this tournament here.