Joaquin Niemann's second LIV Golf win this year is putting him in excellent form for The Masters

Joaquin Niemann’s LIV Golf success translates into another major invite.

LIV Golf Invitational - Jeddah - Day Three
LIV Golf Invitational - Jeddah - Day Three / Francois Nel/GettyImages

Joaquin Niemann’s second LIV Golf title in Jeddah seems to have secured him another major championship invite. He had previously qualified for a third in addition to his two special invites. Could the Chilean end up playing all four majors this year?

When Joaquin Niemann won his maiden LIV Golf tournament at Mayakoba, his first words after his win were not celebratory, but rather a lamentation of his inability to participate in the golf majors due to his status as a LIV golfer.

“But I’m not in the majors,” was his initial reaction after winning the tense playoff against Sergio Garcia at the El Camaleón Golf Course last month.

Although winning the first LIV tournament of the year may have felt sweet, the continued fall in OWGR rankings that the LIV Golf players keep suffering is taking its toll. While some of the players have automatic passes into the majors as past major winners — such as Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and of course last year’s PGA champion, Brooks Koepka, to name some — others haven’t fared so well, including back-to-back LIV winner Talor Gooch.

The OWGR controversy doesn’t seem to have any kind of solution that is satisfactory. There is a valid argument that the format of LIV isn’t compatible with many of the other competitions. But even if it admits LIV into its calculations, it wouldn’t be the first 54-hole format tournament (though it would be the first 54-hole format tour that doesn't have a cut). This is why it’s all a bit murky.

And there’s also the purpose of the rankings. If it’s sole reason is to rank the best golfers in the world, how can you have a system that doesn’t include Dustin Johnson, the reigning PGA champion Koepka, or even Mickelson, who placed second at last year’s Masters?! Sure, they all have spots in the majors due to past wins at them, but the OWGR in no way reflects some of the best players (or you can say it at least omits some of them now).

At any rate, it seems that LIV has given up hope they can work something out with OWGR.

Joaquin Niemann in three majors after latest LIV Golf victory

Niemann’s excellent golf run has now not only resulted in a well-earned invite to The Masters next month, but also a second special invite. The Chilean’s win at the Australian Open on the European Tour last December likely helped secure the spot, with the other two LIV wins coming right afterward.

“The Masters Tournament has a long-standing tradition of inviting leading international players who are not otherwise qualified,” said the August National assignment, according to CBS Sports. Today’s announcement represents the Tournament’s continued commitment towards developing interest in the game of golf across the world. We look forward to welcoming each player to Augusta National this spring.”

Since then Niemann has also been invited to the PGA Championships in May.

“Yeah, I got an invite for the PGA Championship as well. So I’m in that one.”

The Australian Open win gained Niemann an automatic spot to The Open Championship. But the last major, the U.S. Open, is still a big question, with the two-time LIV winner hoping to qualify for it.

Will there ever be a solution to the LIV Golf OWGR issue?

The LIV players who are able to play the majors need to perform well while they’re there so they can gain any OWGR points to qualify for others. So for Niemann, that means that finishing with a top spot at The Masters is a must.

But the way both tours continue to sit in limbo remains a huge problem for golf fans everywhere. The PGA has injected $3B into the mix with investment from the Strategic Sports Group, putting them in a stronger position in their negotiations with LIV for a possible merger that’s been delayed. Jon Rahm’s the latest defection to the LIV Tour, prompting some controversial words from recently retired golf analyst Paul Azinger.

“The best players aren’t all playing PGA Tour tournaments. That’s over. Suddenly, the LIV Tour, let’s just say it like this: the PGA Tour has fast become the qualifier for LIV and it’s a sad day for golf,” Azinger said, via Golf Week. “Yeah, I’ve watched a little bit and I’m not missing it that much. I’m not missing it at all.”

There continues to be bitterness between players on both tours. And even if LIV doesn’t have the spectators at each tournament that some of the PGA Tour events do, those same PGA Tour competitions look thinned out, with less famous names.

It all comes down to a desire to see some kind of amicable compromise so fans can see their favorite players on both tours. Let’s hope for the sake of golf that a reasonable merger can be accomplished. I watch both tours and I enjoy both tours.

But to be honest, these days, I find the LPGA to be my preferred option: less rancor.

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