Jue. Feb 29th, 2024

PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico — Joaquin Niemann outlasted Sergio Garcia well after sunset Sunday in the season-opening LIV Golf Mayakoba, making a 12-foot birdie putt from the fringe on the fourth hole of a playoff with the green lit by a large video screen.

Niemann won his first LIV Golf title two days after opening with a 12-under 59 — and a day after having 2 penalty strokes tacked onto his second-round score for taking incorrect relief on a drop from a cart path on the 13th hole.

That left the 25-year-old Chilean 2 shots ahead entering the final round. He closed with a 1-under 70, parring the final two holes to match Garcia at 12-under 201 at El Camaleon. Garcia parred the final three holes of regulation in a 66.

Niemann had putts to win on the par-4 18th in regulation and again on the first two extra trips down the hole, then survived on the third playoff hole when Garcia missed a 10-foot birdie try.

Niemann and Garcia decided to play one more hole in the fading light, and Garcia gave Niemann a big opening when he left his approach from the fairway well right in deep rough. The 44-year-old Spanish player’s flop shot raced by the right edge, and Niemann followed with the winner in the longest playoff in the Saudi-funded league’s three-year history.

Niemann won the Australian Open in December with an eagle in a playoff against Rikuya Hoshino.

Masters champion Jon Rahm, the biggest name to sign with the LIV Golf league during the offseason, tied for third at 10 under in his tour debut.

Tied for the lead with two holes left, Rahm closed with two bogeys for a 70. He drove left into trouble on the 17th and found a fairway bunker off the tee on 18.

The Spanish star did lead Legion XIII to the team title, 4 strokes ahead of Bryson DeChambeau-led Crushers GC.

Dean Burmester also was 10 under after a 70. Defending champion Charles Howell III (68) tied for fifth at 8 under with Dustin Johnson (67) and Brooks Koepka (68).

The tour is headed to Las Vegas for an event that starts Thursday.

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