Niemann wins LIV Golf title in thrilling Mexican candlelight play-off

Bittersweet moment for Masters Champion Rahm as he captains Legion XIII to Team Title despite a double bogey finish

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Torque GC's Joaquin Niemann poses with the trophy after winning the LIV Golf Mayakoba. - Reuters
Torque GC's Joaquin Niemann poses with the trophy after winning the LIV Golf Mayakoba. - Reuters

Published: Tue 6 Feb 2024, 5:51 PM

Joaquin Niemann won the individual title in a four-hole play-off against Sergio Garcia in near-darkness at the LIV Golf season opener at Mayakoba, Mexico.

Jon Rahm bogeyed his final two holes to miss the playoff, but his new Legion XIII expansion team captured the team trophy in an impressive LIV Golf debut.

They earned the title by four shots over defending Mayakoba champions Crushers GC in the first regular-season Sunday in which every score counted for each team.

Legion XIII shot a cumulative score of 14 under on Sunday, the best of any team.

Legion XIII's Jon Rahm, Tyrrell Hatton, Kieran Vincent and Caleb Surratt pose with the teams trophy after winning the LIV Golf Mayakoba. - Reuters
Legion XIII's Jon Rahm, Tyrrell Hatton, Kieran Vincent and Caleb Surratt pose with the teams trophy after winning the LIV Golf Mayakoba. - Reuters

“It's very nice in a day in which in any normal tournament I probably would have been upset at my finish to actually have something to celebrate,” said Rahm, the reigning Masters champion who joined LIV Golf in December. “That is one of the big reasons why I decided to transition.”

It was a drama-filled Sunday at El Camaleon, and it started even before the first tee shot was struck when Niemann’s four-shot lead through 36 holes was reduced to two shots due to a rules violation regarding incorrect relief in Saturday’s round.

But the Torque GC captain – who opened the tournament with a 12-under 59 on Friday – overcame the setback, shooting a one-under 70 to finish at 12 under to match Garcia, who shot a final-round 66 to make his second LIV Golf playoff.

Torque GC's Joaquin Niemann watches his putt during the play off round. - Reuters
Torque GC's Joaquin Niemann watches his putt during the play off round. - Reuters

Last year in Singapore, he lost in a playoff to Talor Gooch. Niemann and Garcia exchanged pars for the first three play-off holes. In the fading light and with the gallery chanting for one more hole, both players agreed to continue.

Garcia’s approach shot on the fourth play-off hole found a small patch of rough near the greenside bunker while Niemann’s finished on the fringe. He buried the putt as the nearby scoreboard provided light.

“At the last putt, it was super dark. I think it probably helped me just not being so picky on picking my spot and just looking at the hole, getting a feeling and just getting it there,” said the 25-year-old Niemann.

“It was the best way to end it up. I wanted to make a putt on the last one to win.”

Rahm finished at 10 under to share third place with Stinger GC’s Dean Burmester. His one-under 70 was the highest score of the four Legion XIII players.

Tyrrell Hatton contributed the team’s lowest score, a seven-under 64 which was the low round in the field on Sunday.

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Kieran Vincent added a 69, but the most impressive performance may have been from 19-year-old Caleb Surratt, making his professional debut this week. After suffering a four-putt triple bogey at the par-four 17th, Surratt reeled off five consecutive birdies to end his round with a four-under 67. Those five birdies were vital for Legion XIII to hold off the hard-charging Crushers down the stretch.

“I told myself after that triple that I'm not going to be shaken from anything that happens,” said Surratt, who only recently moved out of his dorm room at the University of Tennessee. “I put my head down and played.”

Team Results

LEGION XIII -24. CRUSHERS GC -20. TORQUE GC -17. STINGER GC -16. RIPPER GC -16. FIREBALLS GC -13. SMASH GC -12. CLEEKS GC -9. MAJESTICKS GC -7. RANGEGOATS GC +2. HYFLYERS GC +2. 4ACES GC +3. IRON HEADS GC +6.


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