When you’re watching a golfer compete while in last place during the final round of a major tournament, it is a mostly boring endeavor.
The golfer may be in last place, but he isn’t spectacularly bad. He will still hit many fairways and reach par more often not. He is just a professional, one of the best golfers in the world, riding out a weekend that didn’t go his way, with few opportunities to leave his mark on an event that has left him behind. The only shot of his you see on the broadcast may be his final putt and the resulting score.
But sometimes, he can have some fun with it. Like treating the round as if he’s playing that wacky new Mario Golf mode.
Joaquin Niemann found himself in a such a situation at the Tour Championship on Sunday for two reasons. One, he had obviously fallen to last place after three rounds, sitting at even par and 30th out of the 30 golfers participating. Two, Brooks Koepka withdrew from the event with a wrist injury.
The shift in pairs caused by Koepka’s exit left Niemann alone in the first group to hit the course on Sunday. With no partner and leader Patrick Cantlay ahead of him by 20 strokes, Niemann decided to speedrun the final round, jogging between shots as the rest of the tournament was decided behind him.
Niemann would eventually finish the final round in one hour, 53 minutes, an unofficial record at the event. His lone slip-up was a literal slip-up while sizing up a putt.
The Chilean wasn’t the only one having fun with it, as Andy Pazder, the PGA Tour’s chief of tournaments and competition, took the opportunity to prank one of his golfers, via Golf Channel
“Come over here, we need to talk,” Pazder told Niemann. “Listen, Joaquin, as a professional, you’ve disrespected the game, you’ve disrespected the Tour Championship. This is not how professionals act, and [caddie Gary Matthews] you’ve been out here a long time and you should know that and here is a fine for $10,000.”
A long furious moment passed before Pazder delivered the punchline, “I’m kidding.”
Niemann also finished 4-over for the round, cementing last place on the scoreboards but not in our hearts.
Niemann’s time beat the Tour Championship record previously held by Kevin Na, who did the same thing in 2016 and finished in one hour and 59 minutes.
That broke the Tour Championship record, but Niemann fell well short of the PGA Tour’s unofficial record set by Wesley Bryan in a furious sprint at the BMW Championship.
Who says golf isn’t for real athletes?