It’s been a whirlwind six months on the course for the Santiago native and a sequence of excellent outcomes have seen the 22-year-old break into the world’s top-30 for the primary time.
It’s occasions at house in Chile, nevertheless, that may outline this previous 12 months for Niemann.
However, joyful video calls house to rejoice the arrival of a brand new member of the family have been brief lived.
“After a couple of weeks, we found out that he had a really rare disease … in the beginning, we had no idea what it was and over time, we figured out that it was bad.”
The remedy works by changing a working copy of the faulty gene into the nerve cells earlier than they die and signs develop.
“We started getting really worried about it and a little desperate because the only medicine and the only cure to help him live for more than two years would cost $2.1 million — we were going out of our minds,” explains Niemann.
“In the beginning we were like: ‘Oh my god, how are we going to do this? How are we going to get the money? Because if we don’t, he’s going to die.'”
With Calderon’s father main the fundraising efforts in Chile, the nation’s best-known golfer set about doing every thing he might from his house away from house, the PGA Tour.
“Rafita started getting a lot of attention on social media in Chile and they made a lot of money, but it still wasn’t enough, so I decided to start donating money during golf tournaments,” says Niemann.
Initially donating $5,000 per birdie and $10,000 per eagle on prime of the $152,450 he earned on the RSM Classic in November, by the point December’s Mayakoba Classic rolled round, information of Niemann’s fundraising efforts had unfold and fellow tour execs together with the likes of Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler could possibly be seen sporting white ribbons in help of the trigger.
“To get so much support from the PGA Tour, from the players and on social media was amazing. Now we’re in March and we got the medicine a month ago, it feels amazing to achieve something like that,” mentioned Niemann.
“With one shot he can create the protein to get muscles, he’s doing a lot better now and he can move … so hopefully he’ll be alright,” he says.
With ideas elsewhere, Niemann might have been forgiven for dropping concentrate on his recreation in current months. However, with a sequence of wonderful performances to begin the 2021 season together with a second place at The Tournament of Champions in January, he is within the type of his life and has achieved a career-high rating of 28.
Following his personal path
Growing up in a rustic the place soccer guidelines, it has been an unlikely journey for the Chilean, however one he appears to be like again on fondly
“I started playing when I was probably around two or three years-old … I had three plastic clubs that I would carry around my house all the time, I could barely walk and I was swinging these clubs,” he laughs.
It did not take lengthy for Niemann’s pure expertise to be a focus for the Chilean Golf Federation and he earned a scholarship to the celebrated Athletic Study Centre in Santiago.
“There were a lot of soccer players, tennis players and I would only have school for around three hours from 8 a.m’-11 a.m. … After that, I was just going to the golf course to play, I think that was the time where I got really good.”
Niemann was quickly incomes invitations to play abroad and commenced to rack up wins, reaching the highest of the world beginner rankings in May 2017, a place he would maintain for 44 weeks till he turned skilled in 2018.
Walking right into a PGA Tour locker room on the age of 19 could possibly be a frightening prospect for any younger participant. Fortunately for Niemann, he shared an agent with Sergio Garcia, some of the revered veterans on Tour and a Masters winner, who went out of his method to assist the teen settle in.
“In the beginning I was feeling a little weird, I didn’t know where the locker room was, I didn’t know where the tee-box was, where to register, I didn’t know anything … He helped me a lot, getting in to practice rounds, getting to know more of the professional guys … I was a little bit scared of being professional but he made it feel more friendly,” Niemann explains.
With the help of Garcia, it wasn’t lengthy earlier than the Chilean started to hit his stride. He earned an impressive win in his rookie season in 2020, claiming the Greenbrier Classic by a exceptional six pictures to grow to be the youngest worldwide winner on the PGA Tour since 1923.
With the 22-year-old now taking part in a number of the finest golf of his profession, many are tipping the teen to kick on and add to his PGA Tour win cupboard this season.
One match particularly this 12 months stands out for the Chilean, who, like most of his compatriots, has an unlimited sense of satisfaction in his homeland.
“The Olympics, for me being from Chile is big. I don’t think everybody in golf looks at it the same way as I do, being from a small country, it would be huge for Chile to have a golf medal
“Having the chance to play within the Olympics and having the ability to win a gold medal can be a dream come true for me and my nation,” he explains.
‘Chi, chi, chi, le, le, le, viva Chile!’ is a chant that has traditionally been reserved for the formidable nationwide soccer staff. With the complete nation behind him and his star persevering with to rise, do not be shocked if this turns into the soundtrack to many a PGA Tour Sunday sooner or later.
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