The father of the best golfer in the history of Chile speaks with El Deportivo about the departure of his son from the PGA, to lead the revolution envisaged by the new circuit. He makes it clear that the decision goes beyond the money and is excited about what’s to come. The talagantino will seek the title in Boston.
The signing of Joaquín Niemann by LIV Golf left no one indifferent. Since the Saudi super league announced the Chilean among the players who crossed the pond after the PGA Qualifiers, thousands of fans have taken to what will be a significant change for national golf. Many applauded the decision to experience a circuit where player freedom and profits are greater. But another group also strongly criticized the drive to sideline the circuit with the sport’s longest history on the planet.
In the midst of this period of boiling and opposing sensations, Jorge Niemann, father of the best golfer in the history of Chile, speaks with El Deportivo to tell the real motivations that pushed his son to leave the PGA. He says he’s not trying to recriminate those who criticize him, but to show the big picture. One that goes beyond mere millions is that the LIV is an ambitious plan, one that seeks (and seems almost destined to) take over the world of golf. The one who started this 2022 with eight tournaments and that in 2023 it will extend to ten dates spread all over the planet, with formats and codes different from those of traditional golf. Gone are the exhausting days, the silent fields. The LIV wants to hit the table.
The first thing Jorge Niemann starts by commenting on is his son’s reasons for leaving the PGA after four seasons playing top tournaments in the United States. Three main ideas make up his explanation: monetary, sporting and personal factors.
Obviously, the most publicized topic of this change has been money. Many have pointed out that the decision revolves exclusively around this, but the former Niemann is more careful with it. He says it was an important factor, but not the only one. He specifies that the offer was a great opportunity, since they offered him a five-year contract and that it was much more important than the one he currently had. He received $100 million with taxes, which will be paid in two installments.
“I am not the one to correct or convince those who think he left for money or that he is a mercenary. Everyone thinks what they want, but as a friend says, in the end they will end up changing the channel anyway. They will go see the LIV… It’s true that before he made a lot of money and the tournaments had more history, but it’s only just started and it’s on the rise”, comments Jorge Niemann in a conversation with El Deportivo.
The statement is accompanied by another relevant subject: the evaluation of the level of competition at which it achieves. Many have taken a dim view of Joaco leaving a tour where the best on the planet have always been present. According to his father, this is not the case: “In the LIV there is Cameron Smith, there are a lot of players who were number one in the world and who know what it is to win in the PGA. On the other hand, when, for example, Joaco was going to face John Deere (a tournament on the North American tour) the best were not there. Of the 54 tournaments, a maximum of 20 were the best in the world. So it’s not like before I always played against the best and now I don’t,” he said.
It also refers to the third reason, and perhaps the most important: schedule flexibility. The program, which ends in October and begins in February, gives him three months off, plus the opportunity to play tournaments on other tours and the majors. In fact, they plan to play a few dates on the European Tour and the Asian Tour at the end of the year, although nothing is confirmed yet. “Being on the PGA looks easy from the outside, but it’s very difficult in terms of timing, so that’s a plus as well. To have more free time and to be able to enjoy what he has produced,” he adds.
A decision that took months
When the news of Joaco’s signing for LIV broke, many wondered when the Chilean had a change of heart, as in June he hinted that he wouldn’t go to the Saudi super league. Jorge Niemann answers this question without problem: “In February it was the first conversation with the agent, on dates close to the Genesis championship. It was a first approach, to talk about the project and a little about the money, but at that time he didn’t “There was no interest from us because the circuit was just getting started, so the insecurities were greater. The decision was made after St. Jude, the first tournament of the playoffs. We were pretty much ready there. He didn’t All that remained was to fine-tune a few details,” he comments.
This explanation implies that the Chilean went with his already clear future to the secret meeting Tiger Woods had with the best players in the world. A meeting where the legend tried to find support from the stars of the circuit. “His idea didn’t change after that, because what they were offering him wasn’t even close to what the PGA were offering him,” his dad said, which also clarifies that the initial intention was to play the Presidents Cup before changing sides, but that the dates did not correspond, because if he was not present at the Boston tournament, he could not participate in the final date of the LIV, which awards a prize of US$18 million to the winner, the same amount the winner of the FedEx Cup receives, although here you only have to play five events.
A significant detail is that three weeks before leaving the tour, the winner of the Genesis Championship met Jay Monahan, commissioner of the PGA. “He told her he had a great future with them…but in four years he had never gotten together with Joaco. Anyway, when he went to say goodbye to her, he wished him good luck. He was much loved on tour,” adds the Chilean’s father, who insists it was a decision they thought a lot about and with all the information on the table.
Niemann inside the LIV
With the man from Talagan already signed up and playing for the new tour, the most important thing is to talk about his stages and his goals within the LIV. Arguing about whether it was the right thing to do or whether it was a leap or a backhand is no longer relevant. The decision is made and now the important thing is the future. A future that will make Niemann one of the biggest stars on the circuit to revolutionize golf. “He’s going to be captain of one of the teams and that means he’s going to have percentage ownership on that team. The LIV wants them to be like NBA franchises, so in the long run they’re going to cost money. and he will be a co-owner,” says Jorge. This sentence gives signs of an ambitious plan and, incidentally, reaffirms that the teams of this 2022 are an experience, since the players will be rotated in these tournaments. Only next year will 16 permanent teams be formed.
In any case, this year is already a great experience for Niemann. As soon as he arrived in Boston, where he is competing in his first event, he felt the freshness and good atmosphere of the circuit. “He told me there was a very good atmosphere between the players, which couldn’t happen at the PGA because they were all dispatched at different times and with a lot of difference. Here, on the other hand, there is a great atmosphere, since everyone goes out to play at the same time. For the spectators, it is also a big event, because after the games there are live concerts,” he comments. For example, this weekend in Boston, the bands St. Lucia, Dalton & The Sheriffs and DJ Diplo will play.
“They are targeting new generations, who don’t bother to spend 12 hours watching golf in the same day. I think it will be a refreshing tour and sooner or later they will join the PGA, because the people who run the majors aren’t going to afford to lose the best either. So I think in three years there won’t be as much rivalry. Maybe later instead of a Ryder or a Presidents we will see a tournament between the PGA and the LIV.”
What Niemann Sr. raises is not unreasonable. In a world where business rules, the PGA will also end up putting aside its personal battle with the LIV and if that happens, it would not be unreasonable to see him profiting from it all. It’s a bet, one that Joaco took with his change of sides. The one who at 23 is not mortal. Five seasons in the Saudi league can bring him a lot, from all points of view. And after that? A whole race ahead. “We are calm with the decision and that Joaco is having a good time”, he concludes, convinced.
This Sunday, Joaco will challenge for the title at the LIV Golf Invitational Boston. This Saturday, he finished second, with five strokes under par. He reaches the final day with a cumulative card of -11.
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I’m Todderic Kirkman, a journalist and author for athletistic. I specialize in covering all news related to sports, ranging from basketball to football and everything in between. With over 10 years of experience in the industry, I have become an invaluable asset to my team. My ambition is to bring the most up-to-date information on sports topics around the world.