Joaquín Niemann announced on Friday that he has tested positive for COVID-19 and now must withdraw from participating in next week's Masters Tournament, becoming the most high-profile golfer on the circuit to bow out of the annual tournament amid the pandemic. Niemann ranks 41st in the Official World Golf Rankings and carried 80-1 odds of winning the event.
Niemann, 21, has yet to win a major championship in his young career. He posted a career-best finish at a major earlier this fall at the U.S. Open, where he tied for 23rd on the leaderboard and planted his flag as one of the up-and-coming talents in the game while enduring the grueling conditions at Winged Foot.
"I have tested positive for coronavirus and unfortunately I will not play in the Masters next week as a result," Niemann said in a statement. "This event means a lot to me, and I have had incredible memories playing as the LAAC champion, as well as alongside some of the game's greatest players last year. I am disappointed but will do everything possible to recover quickly while keeping my family and team safe."
Niemann has played just once at the Masters in his career, which came as an amateur in 2018 where he missed the cut. Since turning pro in 2018, however, he's recorded one win on the PGA Tour -- A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier -- and finished inside the top 10 at a dozen different events. Just last month, he placed sixth at The CJ Cup, besting Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy, among others.
The coronavirus has affected the PGA Tour off and on over the last few months, but Niemann's positive test is the first to impact the Masters. Dustin Johnson and Adam Scott are among the handful of high-profile golfers who have been affected by positive COVID-19 test results and have been forced subsequently to withdraw from events. Johnson, who was then (and still is) No. 1 in the World Golf Rankings, notably had to WD from The CJ Cup after testing positive last month.