Some more background and insight on Joaco:
Sunday, July 23, 2017
The Kingdom of Joaking
Joaquín Niemann is 18 years old, is the number one amateur golf in the world, has matched Tiger Woods' marks and his appearance in the Chilean sport is only comparable to that of Marcelo Ríos in the mid 90's. But that is not enough For him, a quiet boy who does not fondle himself with trophies - in fact he leaves them in the hotels - or with fame, because he seeks only one thing: to win everything, always.
On July 9 last golfer Joaquín Niemann dropped 28 million pesos. That was the amount he could charge for finishing the Greenbrier Classic on the PGA circuit, ranked 29th among the 74 players who qualified for the final day of the championship. The problem was another: Niemann is still an amateur. That's why he still can not collect prizes. "" Did it cost you to leave that money? "" I had no idea how much it was. I knew when I saw it in the newspaper. "You were not interested?" He gave me the same thing. It was not the only thing. That Sunday ended the run in 64 strokes. Something that paired him with Phil Mickelson, as the best-performing golfers that day. Mickelson, to be understood, has won a couple of things: 42 PGA titles, five majors and is one of the top 10 golfers in the history of the sport. "" Were you impressed with how you played that day? "" No. I know it's not a matter of the other world to come and make such a good round.
Joaquín Niemann answers all this at the Starbucks of Rosario Norte with Alonso de Cordova one Thursday afternoon. This is another of the many interviews he has given this past year, after placing himself as the best amateur golfer in the world, qualifying the US Open and passing the cut at Greenbrier, the first tournament of that category he played in his life. That, trying to find a simile with tennis, would be as if someone had reached the semifinals in the first ATP tournament in which he competed. That is why, in Chile, his results soon began to match him with another great one: what Niemann achieved, for some, placed him in the path of Marcelo Ríos. In fact, the president of the Chilean Golf Federation, Felipe Bertin, says "Joaquín will be the benchmark that will massify this sport".
The day before this interview in the Polo Club, where he normally trains, Joaquín gave a demonstrative class of his sport to different media that arrived by the promise of knowing the golfer who begins to accumulate marks of genius.-The raisins Well doing those things? "" I'm going to have to have a good time. "" Do you like it? "" It's not that I like it, I do not like it either. But I have to do it. "" And what do you like to do? "" I like to be calm: playing golf and chao just. But if you have to, I can not say no, just.
Niemann's voice is dry. His tone is flat and his face has almost no expression. "Do you read what is written about you?" "Yes, all of a sudden." "What do you think when you read those things?" "Which is what I just said. "You save the cuts?" "My family keeps them, but I do not care." "Why?" "I do not know. It's all the same to me.
What matters to Joaquin is taking the plane tomorrow to Alabama, where he will try to classify another PGA and meditate on the idea of whether he makes the leap to professionalism or accept the full scholarship that the University of South Florida Offered him to compete for them.
That decision keeps the growing community that follows in their footsteps and opinions about him. "To all who talk outside I hardly ever hear them much, just the same. Because I know what I have to do.-Is there something in the golf that seems to you unattainable? -No, nothing. Another detail about Joaquín Niemann: he's 18 years old. Solo-I play golf, but I'm bad. I never forced Joaco.
In 2000, the commercial engineer Jorge Niemann gave him plastic sticks that he bought in the supermarket to the room of his five children, who was only 2 years old. After a series of house changes, Niemann and his wife, Pamela Zenteno, ended up living on a plot that was inside the Las Palmas Golf Club in Talagante. When he turned 4, Jorge gave his daughter another set of sticks. This time they were iron. "He had a perfect swing. No one had ever taught him. He was left-handed, but he played with straight sticks because we did not understand the difference.
At 8, the father enrolled his son in the academy of the club that directed the Argentine professional Gonzalo Orfila. In the beginning, says Orfila, he had some qualms. After a couple of weeks he saw that Joaquin had a different head. "It was his eighth birthday. Half an hour before the class was over, I told them we're going to stop training and we're going to eat cake at the clubhouse, That I invite you for the birthday of Joaco. And Joaco looked at me with a face as if to say, no, angry. I said, what's the matter, Joaco? Do you want us to continue training or are we going to eat cake? The others, who doubled it in age, shouted we are going to eat cake.
Short story: no one went to eat cake and the class lasted until the end - recalls Orfila.
It was not long before Joaquín began to compete abroad and, in parallel, his parents separated. Jorge went to live in Santiago and Pamela stayed in the house of Talagante. Joaquin only says one thing about it. That, thanks to his personality, that break did not affect his golf. Until the seventh basic, Niemann was studying at Talbulante's Trebulco school. Remember I hated studying there. In eighth grade, they moved him to the Athletic Study Center, a sports college in Las Condes.
He Had been granted a scholarship to play in the French Sport, it made sense to leave Talagante and go to live with his father to Santiago, who saw him after work. He was with him for two years.
At 12 he learned to move alone, not to need anyone. "Golf is very lonely. It's not that I like to be alone, but it's something that will always happen in golf. It is part of. Going to Santiago and being alone helped me to be focused on mine - explains Niemann. The possibility of training seven hours a day triggered his performance.
In 2013, at age 14, he was awarded a scholarship to play in the Polo Club. Here was taken by coach Eduardo Miquel: -I was telling you that hitting an 8 iron at the 160-yard US Open, and hitting an 8-yard iron at the Polo does not make any difference to the run. I tried to understand where he was standing and what importance he gave to external things. The results of that new look did not take long to appear. By the end of 2014, when he turned 16, he had already won internationally prestigious youth tournaments such as Optimist International and the Orange Bowl. The only other golfer to win both titles the same year had been Tiger Woods. "Our eyes were opened here," says Pamela Zenteno, the mother. He started out in the newspapers, in foreign media and we realized that this was for real.
Back from that lonely life in hotels, when he came to his house Niemann hardly ever saw or talked about golf. But when he was going to compete in the United States, more and more people were interested in seeing him. In 2015, after winning a tournament in Canada went to California to compete in the Junior World Championship. Every time he made a shot, there were several US college coaches watching. "Did you mind if they looked at you?" "I did not care," says Niemann.
One of those trainers was Steven Bradley of the University of South Florida. He arrived there because Claudio Correa, a Chilean some years older than Niemann competing for that university, had recommended it to him. "I saw him for four days," Bradley says. Not only was he impressed by how he hit the ball, but how he handled himself on the court, regardless of the pressure of the moment or the importance of the tournament. And that is not something that you find in boys of 18 or even 22. That tournament, it goes without saying, also won by Niemann.
In August of 2015, he accepted the scholarship to go to compete and to study Tampa.
In 2016, he defended the title in California and won the youth world in Japan, going up six strokes of difference. Felipe Aguilar, the best Chilean golfer in history until now, knew him that year.-If you see, Joaquín does not have the power of Tiger Woods, does not hit the drive as hard as Rory McIlroy and does not putt as well as Jordan Spieth. But he is a fairly even player and he recovers very quickly from his mistakes. He has a facility to overcome the bad blow he did at the moment. For the record: Woods, McIlroy and Spieth are all ex numbers one in the world. Seeing this maturity in him, his mother took him to the psychologist specialist in neuroscience, Eugenio Lizama. He put sensors in different parts of the body and evaluated how he reacted to stressful situations and, above all, how he recovered from them.-He has a very good ability to handle a high level of lucidity in a situation of high stress, explains Lizama- . And that, for those who work in this area, is gold: knowing how to react calmly and lucidly in the face of situations of high complexity is a huge advantage. From the mental point of view, it has tremendous potential.
Joaquín Niemann has another way of explaining his change. He says that he learned something from Eduardo Miquel, his technician. "That the others thought the same thing. Phenomenon This year Joaquín Niemann has played 12 tournaments. He won half of them and went second in two others. Everything took him, on May 17, to become the best amateur golfer in the world. "I do not remember that day." But for me it was the same. Life goes on. Yes, I got more messages from whatsapp, but I felt the same, "he says. His brother Lukas wrote one of those messages." I wrote to him "you are number one Joaco, you ****." "Haha, yes": that answered. In those days we were playing Play and called him on the cell phone. He said wait for me and put the game on hold. It took about 20 minutes and cut. I asked who he was and he said nothing, a Golf Channel interview. Then we continue playing. The Golf Channel is a cable channel specialized in that sport. it has more than 79 million subscribers in the world.
Claudio Correa, a Chilean golfer, coincided with him in early June, when he played in an amateur tournament in Mexico, which also won.- He did not fit the trophy in the suitcase, Then left it at the hotel. He left it alone. I do not know if it's because he does not care or because he has much higher goals. A couple of weeks later, Niemann qualified the US Open. Correa was his caddy there. "He hit the first shot and I asked him, "were you nervous", and he said no. One thinks, the first shot of the US Open with millions watching and streaming live, it's normal to be nervous. He looked like he was one more, as if he were already on that level. When Matías Domínguez or Toto Gana played the Masters, another major, they told me that in the first shot their hands trembled. In that tournament, Niemann did not pass the cut. That did not detract from his expectations. "I feel like I can already be there. I know what the level is and it's not any otherworldly thing. "The best golfers in the world are not monsters?" "They are extraordinary, but it is not something that can not be achieved. "Is there any golfer who seems to you unattainable?" "There is not one I think is impossible to beat. Not one.
In that tournament Niemann not only competed against the elite. He also related to them. Carlos Rodríguez, the representative of Sergio García, a Spaniard who is among the best in the world who had already contacted Niemann, approached him and helped him train with himself Garcia and Rory McIlroy: both belonging to the class of Golfers to which Niemann aspires to arrive. Felipe Bertin, president of the Chilean Golf Federation, saw that.-When that type of players take you as a partner, it's because you're someone. There Joaquin told me this is "my world. This is what I want".
Then came his performance at the Greenbrier, the 28 million pesos he had to let go and the possibility of changing his university plans.-No one told us that all this was going to happen so fast. I thought I was going to college this year, but we postponed it and opted for something else. When we accepted the offer to college, we never thought it would be number one in the world.
The representative of Sergio Garcia said he would get several invitations to professional tournaments, says Jorge Niemann. His coach, however, did not see it as improbable.-Joaquin is exceptional. When you are connected with your golf you can always win. I'm not surprised the year he's had, "says Miquel. American analysts are already writing about him, about what he could achieve if he stays focused.
"To Joaco, to be told that he is a phenomenon, it does not matter," says his friend, the golfer Tomás Gana. At the moment of entering the court he forgets that and play golf. That's what happens with him, he forgets everything. For him, with the things he's playing, competing for a college tournament now must be like going to the youth tournaments we played before. He is humble, he will never say it, but he feels it. -
Joaco is the amateur and professional level can also do it, says Felipe Aguilar. That is indisputable. The million dollar question is whether it is ready now or in six months, or in four more years. But until it is not where the potatoes burn, you have to take it easy. That's what worries his mother. Pamela Zenteno says that her son has little tolerance for the social part. That it costs him to speak, although that is what they ask more. She said, "Mom, no, it's not bad, but I swear I do not want to." He was tired of the head. Nobody has taught you that it has to be this way. If he is 18.
In the Starbucks of Rosario Norte with Alonso de Córdova, Joaquín Niemann responds what, he understands, he has to say.-I do not have so much desire to go to university, but it is a stage that has to be done - "Do you say that?" "Yes. "What do you really want?" "Make me professional and play. "And to be the best in the world?" "Yes," Niemann says without a smile, "and be the best in the world.