LIV Golf Invitational - Jeddah - Day Three
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In his first start since receiving an invite to the 2024 Masters, Joaquin Niemann went out and validated that decision by winning LIV Jeddah by four shots over Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel. 

Playing on a golf course where he thrives, Niemann shot rounds of 63-64-66 to notch his second victory in three LIV starts so far this season. Niemann won LIV Mayakoba as well and has received over $8 million for his efforts in three LIV starts.

"I mean, at least [believing I'm the guy to beat is] what I think," said Niemann, who made 19 birdies on the week in King Abdullah Economic City. "I think that's the way it should be. I want to feel and I want to think I'm the best all the time. I think that's the only way to be confident and play good golf.

"I think it's something that you need to believe in yourself to be out here playing this competitive golf and winning tournaments, so yeah."

Niemann was extended an invite to Augusta National last week. In the release, only his play on the DP World Tour was mentioned, but it's still nice for both sides that he's playing great golf on LIV, too.

"I believe [this is the most confidence I've ever had]," he said. "I feel like it's probably my best moment, the best I've ever played before I would say. I just want it to keep going in the same direction. I think there is a lot more to improve, and I think I just need to be curious about that and see how much I can learn."

Niemann, 25, is indeed playing some of the best golf of his career. He is currently ranked No. 18 on the Data Golf rankings -- a number that should change on Monday when all the figures are inputted -- and statistically about as good as he's ever been.

He has now won there of his last seven events and finished in the top five in three others. That's crazy. Now he needs it to translate at the major championships, where he's 0-for-19 when it comes to finishing in the top 10. Even though Niemann still has two events between now and then (including next week at LIV Hong Kong), surely he is already thinking about how soon he can get to Augusta National.

Niemann defeated Jon Rahm, Phil Mickelson and Brooks Koepka on Sunday in Jeddah, but those are not the names on which everyone was focused. Instead, eyes traveled further down the leaderboard to last place where Anthony Kim, making his first pro start since 2012, shot 76-76-74 to finish last by 11 shots and lose to Niemann by 33 over three rounds.

There weren't really any surprises here that somebody who has not played in a professional event in over a decade struggled. He knew he would. LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman knew he would, too. Still, Kim said he's leaving Jeddah encouraged by how his LIV debut went.

"I'm more encouraged after playing this tournament and playing like ass, really," said Kim, who made 18 bogeys or worse in just three rounds and did, at times, play like ass. "But I'm very encouraged. I'm excited about what's coming. My game is starting to shape up. I'm doing things that I used to do before.

"I'm just looking forward to a great year."

Kim will continue with LIV Golf throughout the year and play as a wild card with no team affiliation. His next start will be next week in Hong Kong. When asked what positives he can take into the next event, Kim looked toward his swing.

"I'm definitely hitting the ball well," he said. "I'm doing a lot of things well. I know the scores don't reflect that. It's disappointing to score that way. But, at the same time, I know I have a lot to build on, and I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing."

"Today, the best thing about my game was me committing to my shots," he added after shooting 74 on Sunday, which was his best score of the week. "It didn't have to do with my golf swing. My swing is fine. I'm putting, I'm chipping, I'm doing everything well. I'm just not as focused as I need to be over the shots. I think that that's just time and some more repetition. I think I can take care of that pretty quickly."