Joaquin Niemann is guaranteed at least two major starts this year after qualifying for The Open and receiving a special invitation for the Masters

Niemann fires 59 as LIV Golf’s new season gets under way

Chile’s Joaquin Niemann got the 2024 LIV Golf League season off to a flying start when shooting a 12-under 59 in Friday’s opening round at Mayakoba in Mexico.

In setting the El Camaleon course record, Niemann also becomes the second player in LIV Golf’s first 23 events to card a sub-60 round. Last year, Bryson DeChambeau shot a 12-under 58 at Greenbrier.

After opening his round with a par on the second hole, Niemann birdied the next five holes, made one par and followed with two more birdies before holing out from the fairway for an eagle-2 at the par-4 11th. At that point, he was 9 under through 10 holes.

Neimann said that for most of the day he was unaware exactly where he stood in relation to breaking 60. When he reached the 12th hole, he said he wasn’t sure if the course was a par 71 or 72 and “didn’t want to do the math”.

Thanks to his career-low round, Niemann has a five-shot lead over Patrick Reed (64) going into the weekend. Sergio Garcia is another shot back. Those three will be in the leaders group off the first tee on Saturday; the shotgun start for the second round has been moved up to 12.45pm (8.45pm GMT).

Making his LIV Golf debut, Legion XIII captain Jon Rahm shot a 66 (Photo by Chris Trotman/LIV Golf)

In his LIV Golf debut, Legion XIII Captain Jon Rahm shot a 66 to share fourth place with English pair Laurie Canter and Richard Bland. The Spaniard started fast with five birdies in his first seven holes, but ended with his only two bogeys of the day.

“I feel like one of those bogeys, 17, was avoidable,” Rahm said. “18 was just unfortunate. But it doesn’t take away from how good I played those 16 holes.”

Rahm, who was playing in the group behind Niemann, received a quick display of how talented his fellow competitors are in his new surroundings.

“What is it now, 23 LIV Golf events, there’s a 58 and a 59? It’s pretty impressive,” Rahm said. “… I would confidently say that I would have a bet a lot of money against a 59 here this week, just because of how narrow the fairways are.”

Thanks to Niemann’s fireworks, Torque has the team lead at 13 under, with Cleeks tied for second at 8 under with Reed’s 4Aces GC.