2022 Genesis Invitational leaderboard, grades: Joaquín Niemann goes wire to wire for second PGA Tour win
Niemann shot a 63 in Round 1 and never let up at Riviera Country Club
Joaquín Niemann's tee-to-green game and Riviera Country Club were a perfect match, and that's exactly how the 2022 Genesis Invitational played out for the young Chilean, who finished 19 under to capture his second PGA Tour victory. Niemann, who led after every round this week, edged Collin Morikawa and Cameron Young by two shots.
In doing so, Niemann became the first golfer since 1969 and fourth all-time to pick up a wire-to-wire win at this event. He's in some pretty good company, too.
- Ben Hogan (1948)
- Lloyd Mangrum (1956)
- Charlie Sifford (1969)
As impressive as his first two days were physically in shooting 63-63 (at Riviera!), the final 36 holes were as mentally and emotionally taxing as Niemann has surely ever experienced. On both Saturday and Sunday afternoon, Niemann followed an early eagle on the second nine with two bogeys coming home to shoot 36 on the back side of the course.
On Sunday, the eagle came with a chip-in on No. 11 that seemed to seal the deal as it opened up his lead to six strokes. The gap closed to within two late in the round, but never any closer than that, even though Niemann wobbled some getting it to the house.
That's why you build monstrous leads over the first 36 holes, though. Niemann made mature, wise decisions and never truly put himself in position to kick away the tournament even though Morikawa, who started eight strokes back entering Round 4, and Young were closing hard.
More broadly, this is Niemann's second (and biggest) win in his 98th PGA Tour start as a professional. Incredibly, he's only 23 years old, but his play belies his age. If you look at the last few years of ball-striking, Niemann hangs out in the same neighborhood as Tony Finau, Brooks Koepka and Scottie Scheffler.
This win was merely validation of what everyone inside of golf has known for a while: Niemann is a world-class talent when it comes to hitting the ball and can move it any way you want anytime he pleases. "Deserve" is a bad word in golf (and probably sports), but if certain players deserve to win at certain courses, Niemann and Riviera made a great match. Grade: A+
Here are the rest of our grades for the 2022 Genesis Invitational.
Collin Morikawa (T2): The two-time major winner made it at least interesting for a bit on Sunday, but ultimately, he was in too deep of a hole to make a real run unless Niemann completely fell apart. Still, his two hole-outs for eagle were mesmerizing, and he tied Jon Rahm for the round of the day with a 65, which would have fit nicely with his other closing rounds in his five wins (69, 66, 66, 66 and 64). Morikawa also moved ever closer to the No. 1 ranking in the world while also notching just his second top 10 (in four starts) so far in 2022. Grade: A
Justin Thomas (6th): J.T.'s mishap came in Round 3 on Saturday when he was slightly worse than field average on a day in which he needed to be a lot better to give himself a shot on Sunday against Niemann and Young. Still, there are positives to take away. He hit the ball tremendously (no surprise there), and the putter actually showed up (he gained four strokes). Now he he heads to Florida and to greens where he's slightly better than the majority of the poa greens on the west coast. He's a true threat to repeat at the Players Championship in three weeks. Grade: A
Jon Rahm (T21): It was a disappointing week for Rahm, who never really scared the lead for the first time in a long time at a PGA Tour event. This was his first finish outside the top 15 on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut at the Fortinet Championship just before the Ryder Cup. He was ill that week, and before that you have to go back to the Byron Nelson in May 2021 to find anything outside the top 15. It closes the chapter on a bigger disappointment, too, which he shares with Patrick Cantlay and Thomas. Despite being the three best players of the West Coast swing that ended with Riviera on Sunday, none of the three won a single trophy in the process. There are plenty of other monster events ahead of them that they would rather win anyway, but all three will likely reflect on what could have been over the last two months. Grade: B-
Patrick Cantlay (T33): He is notable in this spot because of an astounding run of seven straight top 11 finishes on the PGA Tour that was snapped this week. Like Rahm, he was tremendous on the West Coast but couldn't turn any of that great play into any hardware for his home. Still, when a T33 is your worst showing since last summer, it highlights more of what you've been doing right for a long time than what you did wrong in a given week. Grade: C+
Collin Morikawa's final round scoring average in his five non-Stableford wins on the PGA Tour is 66.2. Shot 65 today and missed a putt on No. 18 for 64. He won't win because now Niemann can win it with a bogey, but he gave it a good rip.
Morikawa makes a 4 at No. 17 to get to 17 under, within two of Niemann. He's unfortunately running out of holes though.
OK, Niemann increases his lead with a par at No. 16 while Young makes bogey to drop back to -16 in a tie for second with Morikawa. Looks like Niemann is in the clear.
Oh boy, Niemann misses and he's at -19 with Young at -17. Three holes left. Finally we got a golf tournament!
OK, Cameron Young chips in on 15 and Niemann has an interesting par putt that could go either way. If he misses, the lead is just two with three to go.
Niemann is just kind of cruising home. Makes a nice up and down on 13 to stay at 21 under, and it's difficult to see the path to anyone else winning aside from something truly out of the ordinary happening over the last two hours.