Juaquin Niemann’s pro golf career is one tournament old and he’s already got a top-10 finish.
Next up for Niemann, a 19-year-old from Santiago, Chile, is this week’s Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club. And if his second tournament as a pro goes as well as his first, there’s a potential new star coming to the PGA Tour.
A few days after playing in the Masters as an amateur, Niemann turned pro and proceeded to finished sixth two weeks ago at the Valero Texas Open.
“Yeah, after I got a really good amateur career and I said that I want more, like I just want to turn pro and play with the best guys in the world,” said Niemann, who wears a teenager’s braces on his teeth and speaks fluent English. “I think I just was done with my amateur career, I just needed to play the Masters as an amateur, and then after I did it I feel like I was ready for being a pro.”
Niemann missed the cut at the Masters, but picked up what he said was valuable advice from playing partner and ageless-wonder Fred Couples, 58, who won at Augusta in 1992.
“Freddie is really smart on the course; he knows where to hit it, he knows where to miss it,” Niemann said. “Yeah, he hit it — for how old is he, he hit it really long, and yeah, he’s really good. He gave me a lot of advice of how it’s going to be playing on Tour or how you’re going to manage your game in every course.”
Niemann said he likes tree-lined courses, like the TPC San Antonio, where he finished sixth at the Texas Open. So he’s pretty excited about his prospects at Quail Hollow, another leafy layout that stresses long, straight drives.
“San Antonio was really, really tight, and I like to hit my low drivers and I feel really confident with that,” Niemann said. “I mean (Quail Hollow) is really long (7,554 yards). I’ve got to hit it long, big drivers, and yeah, I feel really good.”
Niemann played 18 practice holes Tuesday with Chilean countryman Guillermo Pereira, who made the tournament through a Monday qualifier at Gaston Country Club. On the course and practicing for some of that time was Tiger Woods, whom Niemann loved to watch as a junior golfer back in Santiago.
Niemann said he met Woods once at a junior tournament at Sage Valley Golf Club in South Carolina. Woods gave a clinic and played ping-pong with the young golfers.
“I grew up watching Tiger,” Niemann said. “Yeah, he was incredible. It’s amazing now that I’m playing the same tournament as he, so I hope I can play with him on the weekend. It would be nice.”