PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico — Joaquin Niemann outlasted Sergio Garcia well after sunset Sunday in the LIV Golf League's season-opening tournament at 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.
"It was super dark," Niemann said "I think it probably helped me just not being so picky on picking my spot and just looking at the hole, getting a feeling and just get it there. It was the best way to end it up. I wanted to make a putt on the last one to win."
Niemann won his first LIV tournament title two days after opening with a 12-under-par 59 — and after having two penalty strokes tacked onto his second-round score Sunday morning for taking incorrect relief on a drop from a cart path on the 13th hole Saturday.
"I'm pretty happy that the day ended up this way, especially how the morning started," Niemann said. "I think dinner is going to taste a little bit better than breakfast.
The penalty strokes left the 25-year-old Chilean two shots ahead entering the final round of the 54-hole event. He closed with a 70, parring the final two holes to match Garcia at 12-under 201 at El Camaleon Golf Club. Garcia, a 44-year-old Spaniard whose 11 PGA Tour victories included the 2017 Masters, parred the final three holes of regulation in a 66.
"I wasn't feeling great. My swing is still not feeling great," Garcia said. "To be able to hang in there as much as I did and almost win without feeling very comfortable at all is a positive."
Niemann had putts to win on the par-4 18th in regulation and again on the first two extra trips down, then survived on the third playoff hole when Garcia missed a 10-foot birdie try. The winner got a break in the first playoff hole when his drive struck a right-side tree and and ended up in the rough.
"I got lucky on the first playoff hole," Niemann said. "I think that shot right there got me back from that two-shot penalty that I had this morning. I kind of took it that way."
Rather than come back Monday to finish, Niemann and Garcia decided to play a fourth extra 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. Garcia'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 also won a playoff at the Australian Open in December during the LIV offseason, topping Rikuya Hoshino with an eagle.
"I was more excited than anything to start the season, to start playing on LIV and start playing for my teammates," Niemann said. "I was just excited to get started. I think this is the best way to get started."
Masters champion Jon Rahm, the biggest name to sign with LIV Golf league during the offseason, tied for third at 10 under in his debut. The 29-year-old Rahm, a two-time major winner with 11 PGA Tour victories before leaving that circuit, is currently No. 3 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
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, four strokes ahead of the Bryson DeChambeau-led Crushers GC.
"It's very nice in a day in which, in any normal tournament I probably would have been upset at my finish, to actually have something to celebrate," said Rahm, the captain for Legion XIII.
Dean Burmester (70) shared third with Rahm.
"It wasn't my day, unfortunately, but it was there for the taking," said the 34-year-old South African, who is seeking his first LIV win after joining a year ago.
Charles Howell III, last year's Maykoba winner, closed with a 68 tied for fifth at 8 under with Dustin Johnson (67) and Brooks Koepka (68).
Niemann earned $4 million, Garcia $2.25 million and Rahm and Burmester $1.25 million each. Rahm and Legion XIII teammates Tyrrell Hatton, Caleb Surratt and Kieran Vincent got $3 million in the team competition.
LIV is now headed to Las Vegas for an event that starts Thursday.
Clark declared winner of shortened Pebble Beach Pro-Am
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Wyndham Clark was declared the winner of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Sunday evening when the PGA Tour canceled the final round because of wicked weather conditions that would linger into the next day and cause safety concerns.
Clark's final stroke was to tap in for a two-putt birdie from 25 feet on Saturday, giving the reigning U.S. Open champion a course-record 12-under 60 and, at 17-under 199 through three rounds, a one-shot lead over Sweden's Ludvig Aberg, who missed a long eagle putt on the par-5 18th hole.
Clark never had to hit another shot.
"It's maybe not the way you dream of winning," Clark said in a conference call Sunday night. "With that said, a lot of us yesterday had ... not that we knew, but we definitely had this outside shot and thinking that maybe this is our last round."
Clark was six shots behind going into Saturday and said he was aiming for a spot in the top 10.
Overnight rain saturated Pebble Beach, and raging wind that followed led the PGA Tour to postpone the final round with hopes of playing Monday. The tour said the storm known as an "atmospheric river" was to linger into Monday morning, and while conditions were expected to improve, Monterey County emergency officials had urged residents to stay at home.
"Out of an abundance of caution for the safety of all constituents, there will be no play on Monday," the PGA Tour said in declaring the tournament 54 holes and Clark the winner.
The 30-year-old from Colorado picked up his third win in the last nine months, all of them big with a $3.6 million payoff. He also won the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, and his first major championship in the U.S. Open last year at Los Angeles Country Club.
He didn't get to pose with the trophy on the 18th green at Pebble Beach. He didn't feel cheated out of appreciation, either, not the way the gallery responded to his close call going for a 59.
"Everyone was celebrating and congratulating me," Clark said of the response to his Saturday round. "I even said to myself, 'This feels like I just won the tournament,' and yet we had another round to play. Today, waking up and they cancel the day, you're trying not to go too far in the future. I get a call that we're going to cancel and you're the winner.
"It's pretty surreal right now."
Still, it was a dreary start to the PGA Tour's new season of "signature events" on network television. Pebble Beach, among the most famous courses in the world, had its strongest field in decades. CBS was prepared for a telecast with the NFL not playing ahead of the Super Bowl.
And then there was no golf.
Matthieu Pavon of France finished third with a birdie on the last hole Saturday. Pavon was coming off a victory down the coast a week earlier at San Diego's Torrey Pines, and his finish at Pebble moves him to No. 1 in the FedEx Cup standings.
The season is just five tournaments old, but it's no less amazing. Pavon last year birdied his last four holes to get the last of 10 PGA Tour cards offered to players from the Europe-based DP World tour.
Mark Hubbard and Thomas Detry tied for fourth, and each earned 312.5 points toward the FedEx Cup, more than a runner-up finish is worth in a regular tournament.
Neither would have been eligible for Pebble Beach except the tour had to dip below 60th in last year's FedEx Cup to fill the field to 80 players because there were 80 amateurs for the opening two rounds.
All four Baylor School graduates on the PGA Tour were in the field, though Luke List was the only member of the quartet in the top 30, tying for 26th at 8 under after closing with a 69. Keith Mitchell (72) tied for 54th at 4 under, Stephan Jaeger (69) tied for 71st at par and Harris English (69) was 76th at 2 over.
Frittelli closes well to win DP World Tour tourney in Bahrain
RIFFA, Bahrain — South African golfer Dylan Frittelli earned his first victory on the DP World Tour in more than six years after making three birdies in his last six holes for a two-stroke victory at the Bahrain Championship.
Frittelli started the final round leading by two shots but was out of first place after playing the first 12 holes in 2 over. He bounced back with back-to-back birdies on the par 5s at Nos. 13 and 14, then rolled in a 40-footer for birdie at No. 16 to regain his two-stroke advantage.
Frittelli parred the last two holes for a 1-under 71 and finished at 13-under 275 in the 72-hole event for his first win on the Europe-based circuit since the Mauritius Open in December 2017. The 33-year-old's only other win on this tour came that year, at the Lyoness Open six months earlier, though he has won since in the United States on the PGA Tour at the John Deere Classic in 2019.
That was his rookie season on the PGA Tour but he struggled there in 2023, missing the cut or withdrawing from 23 of his 27 starts and losing his full playing privileges.
"Last year there were a couple of spots where I felt like giving the game up, to be honest," said Frittelli, who has fallen to No. 434 in the Official World Golf Ranking. "I was looking for something else. I found some resolve at the end of last year, got some good work from my physio and my coaches and trainers, and glad I persevered."
South Africa's Zander Lombard (68) and Sweden's Jesper Svensson of Sweden (70) tied for second place. With Ockie Strydom in a two-way tie for fourth a further two strokes back, there were three South Africans in the top five.
Frittelli said he felt under pressure throughout his final round and was only comfortable when standing over a 12-footer for birdie at the end while holding a two-shot lead.
"I was swinging it great all week, and then all of a sudden I couldn't hit it on the planet in the Sunday round," he said. "Glad I managed to have the resolve."