Chile’s Joaquin Niemann brought some light-hearted “entertainment” to the serious business of the final round of the PGA Tour’s Tour Championship and FedEx Cup finale at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta on Sunday.
The Chilean, who was required to play his final round on his own following the withdrawal on Saturday of Brooks Koepka, decided to make it a fun round and see how quickly he could go round the challenging course.
In the end, he completed his fourth round in one hour, 53 minutes – the fastest ever round at East Lake. And he still shot a hugely impressive two-over par 72.
Niemann’s feat bettered the “record” set by American Kevin Na, at the same venue in 2016, when he was also asked to play on his own. On that occasion Na went round in one hour, 59 minutes and 52 seconds, with a score of even par 70.
On the bag for Niemann was none other than Gary Matthews, a South African who’s also caddied for the likes of Tim Clarke, Sergio Garcia, Trevor Immelman, Luke Donald and Charl Schwartzel.
Matthews, who played college golf for the University of Arizona, lives in Dallas, Texas.
“I was like, I’m just going to rush it and try to break the record. It was pretty good, the back nine,” Niemann told golfchannel.com, who finished at four over for the week and was 29th out of 29 players.
Matthews said: “He had three golf balls. He didn’t have the usual nine. He didn’t have a rain cover. He didn’t have any little instruments that we had. He only had one glove, five tees,” Matthews laughed, about his emptying the golf bag before the round started. “It was really cool.”
The limited-field tournament was won by American Patrick Cantlay.
South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen finished in a tie for 14th, while Erik van Rooyen was tied 22nd.