Jon Rahm already struggling at the start of LIV golf at Mayakoba as Joaquin Niemann shoots an opening round 59
The performance of the day may have been Joaquin Niemann’s opening round of 59, but the man of the day was none other than Jon Rahm. Making his LIV golf debut at the same golf course where he made his PGA Tour debut nine years ago, the world No. 3 as the only one outside of the Legion XIII crest on his chest and the shorts he wore.
The Spaniard heads into the weekend at LIV Golf Mayakoba as one of Niemann’s closest pursuers after compiling a 5-under 66 in Round 1 at El Camaleon Golf Course. Golf came easy to Rahm, as usual, and his start to the team round started with a bang thanks to an opening birdie and four more over the next six holes. He had a couple more birdies before a pair of putts on his final two holes put the finishing touches on Rahm’s league debut.
“I think golf in theory was going to be a safe haven from everything else,” Rahm said. “Things could get a little messy at one point trying to find the team, but the golf course is always a place where I feel somewhat in control and can feel comfortable. team and everything almost gone, it was much more easy to just come out here and focus and perform.
“The last hurdle was trying to figure out how the warming affected me [with] everyone goes gun [start]. It didn’t seem any different from any other startup or resume I’ve had before. It was a lot of fun,” Rahm continued. “Obviously the atmosphere is very different and I think it showed. I felt very relaxed out there. It’s a bit like how I play at home with my friends with music in the card. It was pretty much a perfect day. “…
In the group ahead of Rahm, Niemann put his foot on the gas and never looked back. Making seven birdies over his first nine holes, the Chilean hit the nitrous on his 10th hole of the day with an eagle on the par-4 11th. A birdie on the par-5 13th soon after put Niemann at 10 under for the round before picking up further birdies on 15 and 17.
The 25-year-old only needed a pair of pars to pile up a sub-60 round, but he had the chance to go even deeper. A missed opportunity from short range on the par-4 18th derailed a 57 and a fluky approach from just outside 100 yards on his closing hole bid farewell to a 58.
“I recognized him. I was really in the field,” said Niemann after his round. “I was playing really well and I said to myself, ‘Just keep doing the same thing.’ I got to 18 and people started yelling at me to go for 58, and I was like ‘Shit, it’s a par 71.’ When I got to 12 I didn’t realize if [par] 72 or 71 and I didn’t want to do the math. I just wanted to keep doing what I was doing … I was able to get under 60 which is pretty cool.”
Niemann’s 59 is the second sub-60 round in LIV golf history; Bryson DeChambeau shot a 58 in the final round of LIV Golf Greenbrier last August. His score also represents the lowest ever in a tournament held by a PGA Tour event before LIV Golf took over the past two years.