Niemann claims second win of 2024; Crushers rally from 11 strokes down

football03 March 2024 17:27

In winning for the second time this season, Joaquin Niemann believes he’s now the player to beat in the LIV Golf League.

In setting a record for biggest rally by any team in the final round, Bryson DeChambeau and his defending champion Crushers GC reminded the rest of the league they remain the foursome to beat.

Niemann shot a final-round 4-under 66 to finish at 17 under and claim a four-stroke victory Sunday at LIV Golf Jeddah.

The 25-year-old captain of Torque GC also won the season opener at Mayakoba in a playoff against Sergio Garcia.

The two victories in the first three events of 2024 moved him atop the season-long Individual Championship standings and continued his sizzling play that began during the LIV Golf offseason when he won the Australian Open.

“It's probably my best moment, the best I've ever played before,” Niemann said. “I just want it to keep going in the same direction.”

The Crushers, meanwhile, definitely produced their best moment of the season at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club after winning the 2023 Team Championship in Miami last October.

Starting the round with an 11-shot deficit, the Crushers shot 20 under – eight shots better than any other team – to finish at 38 under for the four-stroke victory over the Stingers.

Smash GC, winners of the previous event in Las Vegas, finished third.

The previous largest rally by any winning team came last season in Adelaide when 4Aces GC won after starting the final round with a seven-stroke deficit.

DeChambeau provided his team’s lowest round with an 8-under 62, the best individual score in the field on Sunday. 

Charles Howell III added a 64 (tying for second lowest of the day) and Anirban Lahiri’s 65 tied for the fourth lowest.

Paul Casey chipped in another sub-70 round with a 69 as the Crushers moved to the top of the season-long team standings.

“It was just a top priority for us to play our best, and this obviously showed today,” said DeChambeau, who had the team’s best individual finish with a solo fourth.

“Especially in these types of conditions, when it's really windy, we do pretty well. We just hold our head high. I don't know what else to say.”

Said Lahiri: “Shooting 20-under on any golf course is a big deal, and to do it on a course like this on such a windy day is actually, I think, one of the best Sunday team performances that you'll see for a while.”

A pair of Stinger GC players, captain Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, tied for second individually behind Niemann.

It was Schwartzel’s best LIV Golf finish since winning the inaugural London event in the 2022 beta-test season, while Oosthuizen equaled his best result as a LIV golfer.

Their results helped to offset any disappointment from the team perspective, as the South African squad held a 10-shot lead at one point early on Sunday before the Crushers stormed past them.

“I think a good team score today, I would have said would probably be 10 [under],” Oosthuizen said. “To shoot 20 under like they did, there's not much you can do against that.”

Right now, there’s not much the rest of the league can seem to do against Niemann. He’ll enter next week’s LIV Golf Hong Kong full of confidence.

“I want to feel, and I want to think I'm the best all the time,” he said. “I think that's the only way to be confident and play good golf.”