Joaquin Niemann’s ‘chase’ for Masters invite pays off

Joaquin Niemann watches an approach during a LIV Golf event on Feb. 8, 2024, in Las Vegas.

Joaquin Niemann watches an approach during a LIV Golf event on Feb. 8, 2024, in Las Vegas.

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Back in January, we received a hint of just how important it was for Joaquin Niemann to get back to Augusta National for the Masters.

Of course, Niemann wanting a spot in one of the biggest golf tournaments in the world shouldn’t be shocking, but we found out how much it meant when he teed it up at the Dubai Desert Classic in mid-January.

When Niemann won the Australian Open in December, he was awarded automatic membership onto the DP World Tour. That allowed him to enter the Dubai Desert Classic, where valuable World Ranking points were up for grabs. LIV Golf tournaments are still fighting to get those precious points for its events.

The Masters has two top-50 World Ranking cutoffs to get into the field. The first is on Jan. 1, meaning everyone inside the top 50 who is not already exempt gets invited. The second top-50 exemption is sent out the week before the Masters.

After he won in Australia, Niemann went from 82nd to 59th in the World Ranking, which meant he was close. Without events with points to keep his ranking afloat, he fell back to 70th before Dubai, but a T4 there helped him jump back to 64th.

“I think I deserve to be in the majors,” Niemann told that week in Dubai. “Obviously the World Rankings don’t show that but I think if I had to play every week with World Ranking [points], I know I would be in the majors. But it is what it is, and that’s why I’m here.”

Lately, Niemann’s chances of heading to Georgia seemed slim. Then came Wednesday, when Augusta National announced that Niemann (along with two others) accepted invitations for the 2024 Masters.

“The Masters Tournament has a long-standing tradition of inviting leading international players who are not otherwise qualified,” said Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley. “Today’s announcement represents the Tournament’s continued commitment towards developing interest in the game of golf across the world. We look forward to welcoming each player to Augusta National this spring.”

How did Niemann take it?

“It’s exciting; I was trying to chase that invite so it is nice that they called me,” Niemann told the Asian Tour communications team at this week’s International Series Oman. “I am super excited with that news. I obviously love that course at Augusta National and it is one of those courses you must be hitting it well off the tee and hitting it long. If I keep driving it well, I think it is going to serve me well and I’m looking forward to that week.”

Niemann’s comments to the Asian Tour were his first public statements after the nod, and it’s likely his 2018 Latin America Amateur Championship title — an event in which the winner gets a Masters invite — helped his cause.

Now he’ll make his fifth Masters appearance. He’s improved his finish in each of the last three, too: finishing T40 in 2021, T35 in 2022 and T16 last year, which remains his best major finish.

The 2024 Masters is April 11-14 at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga.

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