White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. – Joaquin Niemann was an 18-year-old amateur when he arrived in West Virginia two years ago and tied for 29th in the only PGA Tour event he played outside of the U.S. Open.
In 2018, he improved to a tie for fifth at the tournament.
Now he has a chance to become the first player from Chile to win on tour.
Niemann shot a 2-under 68 on Saturday to take a two-stroke lead in A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier.
The 20-year-old Niemann was 15 under with a round left in the season-opening event at the Old White TPC.
“I just feel like I’m almost a member here,” Niemann said. “I just like being out here. Always when you play on a course that you know already it helps a lot. I think this is the course I have played more on tour.”
Niemann had a bogey and three birdies, including a 4-foot putt on the par-5 17th.
“I’m just really happy the way I’ve been playing,” Niemann said. “This course is really good for me.”
No third-round leader has gone on to win the tournament.
Nate Lashley, Richy Werenski and Robby Shelton were tied for second at 13 under. Lashley and Werenski shot 65, and Shelton had a 70.
Adam Long and Scotty Scheffler were 12 under. Long shot 70, and Scheffler had a 71.
Lashley’s story is well known by now. In 2004 his parents and girlfriend were killed in a plane crash in Wyoming. After resuming his career in the PGA Tour’s minor leagues, he won his first tour title at the inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit in June after slipping into the field as an alternate.
“My mentality is I’m definitely a lot more relaxed,” Lashley said. “I’m just playing, just trying to take that as experience, the way I played in Detroit. You know, I really just kind of kept to myself that week and really just focused and tried to block everything else out. I feel like I’ve done a good job of that so far.”
Lashley made bogeys after finding the rough on the par-4 11th and the greenside bunker on the par-3 15th. He chipped in for eagle from 36 feet at No. 17.
His tee shot on the 179-yard 18th came as thunderstorms arrived in the area and play was suspended for about 50 minutes. Upon returning, Lashley three-putted from 70 feet.
Werensky finished No. 126 in the FedEx Cup standings last season, one spot from qualifying for the playoffs. He got his PGA Tour card back for this season in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals.
Werensky said that he didn’t get discouraged after missing the playoffs. Heading into the Korn Ferry Finals, “I had like a, I don’t want to say an epiphany, but just like, ‘Hey, man just chill out. Relax. I know I’m good enough.”
Shelton was tied for the lead with Niemann and Scheffler after the second round. Shelton was 2 over for the day until making birdies at the par-5 12th and par-4 14th.
He hopes to use his two wins on the Korn Ferry Tour last season to help stay calm Sunday.
“You got to be super patient,” he said. “I mean, it’s hard to do, but hopefully I can manage my nerves tomorrow.”
Kevin Chappell couldn’t capitalize on the 11-under 59 he shot Friday, the 11th sub-60 round in tour history. He had a 73 on Saturday and was eight strokes behind Niemann.
After a day of extraordinary comebacks, tense 18th-hole finishes, and some of the most brutal weather conditions in Solheim Cup history, still nothing can separate Europe and the United States at Gleneagles, Scotland.
It’s 8-8 heading to the final-day singles and there’s no way of knowing which way this one’s going to fall.
It was just gone 7 p.m. local time on Saturday when Danielle Kang rolled in a long birdie putt amid the gloom to clinch the last match of the afternoon fourballs for the U.S. on the 17th hole, depriving the Europeans of the lead.
Kang hugged playing partner Lizette Salas, who was wearing giant ear muffs and a thick coat. They were congratulated by U.S. captain Juli Inskster, who was wearing three hats. Golf carts parked around the green had their headlights on.
It was one of those days when balls fell off tees and police officers roaming the course were seen holding onto their hats.
“I’m sure they’d love to be playing in Spain right now,” Inkster said of the players, “but this is where we’re at.”
It is the first time since 2011 in Ireland that Europe and the U.S. were tied going to the singles. The Europeans went on to lift the cup that year, and they are seeking to prevent a U.S. three-peat in women’s golf’s premier team event.
After the morning foursomes were shared 2-2, leaving Europe with a 6 1/2-5 1/2 lead, Inkster made the bold decision to rest the three unbeaten players in her team for the fourballs. Out went the Korda sisters, who had just swept to a record-tying 6-and-5 win, and also Morgan Pressel, who won seven of nine holes with Marina Alex to come from 4 down and secure a 2-and-1 victory.
Inkster went out of her “pod” system that has guided her selection and put her faith in fresher players to bring home the points in winds that reached 44 mph (70 kph).
The U.S. won the fourballs 2 1/2-1 1/2, with the match involving Kang and Salas – 2-up winners against Carlota Ciganda and Azahara Munoz – the only one not reaching the 18th hole.
Brittany Altomare and Annie Park had a 1-up victory in the top match over Anne van Dam and Suzann Pettersen, who left a putt short from 15 feet at the last that would have earned Europe a half-point.
Caroline Masson saw a curling putt from 8 feet lip out on No. 18 as her and European teammate Jodi Ewart Shadoff settled for a half-point against Alex and Lexi Thompson, the world No. 3 who still hasn’t won a match this week.
Then in the third match, Georgia Hall and Celine Boutier won the last five holes to recover from 3 down and claim a 2-up victory for Europe against Ally McDonald and Angel Yin. Hall and Boutier have played together in three matches and won all of them.
“The weather was horrendous – could hardly stand up,” said Hall, last year’s Women’s British Open champion. “Back nine, we kind of switched on and played some really good golf.”
Slow play has been another feature and each of the matches in the fourballs took more than 5 1/2 hours. Ciganda and Salas were both warned for bad times by the referee and every match was put on the clock.
“We’re playing for our country and we’re playing in these kind of conditions, so we’re playing as fast as we can,” said Thompson, who said the weather was “definitely the toughest I think I’ve played in.”
“We don’t want to be out there for six hours, either. But we have a lot on the line.”
Indeed, what’s at stake for the Americans is a third straight win – the third time they would have achieved such a streak – and an 11-5 lead in the overall series. It would be a stunning feat for a team containing a record six rookies and also for Inkster, who would become the first U.S. captain to have three victories.
Inkster said her players will put on some music – “I’ve got from Motown to Sam Smith to Khalid to Bruno Mars to the Temptations,” she said – and “chill out” rather than give any kind of motivational speech.
As for Europe captain Catriona Matthew, she believes Sunday can go either way.
“The first two days you can tell there’s not too much to pick between the two teams,” she said, “so we’re going in with a lot of confidence that we can do it.”
Sergio Garcia and Callum Shinkwin shot 6-under 66s and shared the lead at 15 under after the third round of the KLM Open at Amsterdam.
Playing together in the second-to-last pairing at The International on the outskirts of Amsterdam, Garcia and Shinkwin traded birdies all day.
Garcia drew level on the par-5 18th, just missing a tricky eagle putt over a slope on the undulating green before tapping in for birdie, while Shinkwin could manage only a par after finding a bunker behind the green with his second shot.
The Spaniard has made just one bogey in the first three rounds.
“That’s always a nice thing to have on a week,” Garcia said. “Enjoying that, and we’ll try to do more of the same tomorrow.”
Nicolai Hojgaard, an 18-year-old Dane, was alone in third place, two strokes back.