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‘It’s a place that I love’ – Joaquin Niemann bullish over 2024 Masters chances

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It would be hard to argue that Joaquin Niemann is one of the hottest golfers on the planet at the moment. The Chilean won the Australian Open in the fall to secure an Open Championship invitation and kicked off his 2024 LIV Golf season by winning two times in three starts.

As a result of his strong play, the 25-year-old was invited by Augusta National to play in the 2024 Masters. He revealed to GolfWRX yesterday that he’s also received an invitation to play in the 2024 PGA Championship at Valhalla.

Niemann told us that with how he’s playing, he’s right up there with the best golfers in the world.

“I feel like I’m playing great golf, to be winning against the best players, I feel like I might be up there.”

When we asked if he believes he could win the Masters, Niemann was optimistic.

“Yeah, it’s a place that I love. I’ve been playing good golf. Especially last year, I wasn’t playing my best golf, and I had a good week there and made triple on 11 that kind of killed me a little bit.

I feel like I’m getting more ready and more prepared every time. My game is getting better too. I know that I’m playing good enough to be in that situation that I can have a chance to win the Masters and it’s all about how I react to that situation.

So yeah, I’m going to prepare myself to be ready for that situation if it happens and I can fight for the title on the Sunday which would be awesome.”

Experience at Augusta National is always essential, and Niemann has gotten progressively better at each of his Masters starts, culminating with his best finish last year when he tied for 16th place.

Joaco has also won at Riviera, which in the past has been an indicator of players who would perform well at Augusta National. Adam Scott, Hideki Matsuyama, Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson are all relatively recent examples of that.

Current form has also been a strong indicator for Masters champions, and Niemann is scorching hot as the best week in golf rapidly approaches.

*Featured Image courtesy of LIV Golf*

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19th Hole

‘If Steve Williams was Rory’s caddie…’ – Tiger Woods’ ex-coach highlights key moment in Rory McIlroy’s U.S. Open collapse

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With Rory McIlroy coming up short in yet another major championship, there have been plenty of opinions shared on social media about what the superstar needs to do to win another.

Hank Haney, who was once the coach of Tiger Woods, shared his opinion on X on Tuesday.

“I will say this, if Steve Williams was Rory’s caddie I can promise you he would have never hit a perfect flighted 7 iron that rolled over the green on 15 into a terrible lie because he would have hit an 8 iron and sent it straight up in the air and held the green.”

Haney also added: “Wrong club, wrong shot, bad plan.”

Harry Diamond has been McIlroy’s caddie since 2017 and is one of the Northern Irishman’s closest friends.

McIlroy will take a few weeks off before teeing it up at the Genesis Scottish Open a week before the Open Championship at Royal Troon.

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Brandel Chamblee says this area of Rory McIlroy’s game costs him in the biggest moments

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It’s been over a decade since Rory McIlroy last won a major. At last week’s U.S. Open, the Northern Irishman had his best chance in recent memory to finally got over the hump, but missed two putts inside five feet, including a 2’6? putt, which cost him the tournament.

While speaking on Golf Channel, Brandel Chamblee shared his opinion on what he believes has held McIlroy back in the biggest moments.

“Don’t get me wrong, I love Rory’s golf swing, it’s beautiful. It’s beautiful. But he’s now finished in the top-ten in the last six US Opens and he’s averaging in those six US Opens – because I just looked here in strokes gained approach – about 30th. Guess what they do not do? Win US Opens.

“The guys who win US Opens finish first, second, third, fourth. Brooks Koepka in US Opens – first, second, most greens and best iron shots, strokes gained approach.

“Rory consistently underperforms in his iron play – and that is the most important statistic.”

The stats back up Chamblee’s opinion. On Sunday, Rory ranked 69th of 74 players in Strokes Gained: Approach.

McIlroy will take a few weeks off before teeing it up at the Genesis Scottish Open followed by the last major of the year at Royal Troon.

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Tour pro says Rory McIIroy needs to replace caddie Harry Diamond following U.S. Open collapse

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It’s no secret that Rory McIlroy hasn’t won a major in a decade. On Sunday, the Northern Irishman had his best chance in recent memory to finally got over the hump, but missed two putts inside five feet, including a 2’6″ putt, which cost him the U.S. Open.

While speaking on The Chipping Forecast podcast, DP World Tour player Eddie Pepperell said he believes McIlroy needs a new caddie.

“He looked so comfortable and in control and he just needed to hit it to the front part of that green on 15. And I really think he would have walked away with that trophy. That was an inexplicable club decision on 15 and possibly the last too.”

Harry Diamond, a longtime McIlroy friend, has been on his bag since 2017.

Pepperell said that McIlroy’s former caddie, JP Fitzgerald, would be a wise choice to replace Diamond.

“I just think Rory needs somebody who’s capable, like JP (Fitzgerald) probably used to be able to do and help him get across that line.”

Eddie added that if Rory were to win at Pinehurst, a change wouldn’t have been necessary.

“I wouldn’t have said this If he had won but I think he needs a new caddie. I hate saying that about Harry because I’m sure he’s a lovely guy. And I’m sure he’s a good caddie.

“But today, I felt Rory needed somebody that could pull him through the finish line. Rory should never have lost that golf tournament today.

“And I’m adamant about that. I’m sure if he had a super experienced, strong caddie, he would have just pulled him through.

“And I think that that’s the thing that’s holding him back in majors. I could be wrong, but that’s what I think and a bogey on 15 was just emblematic.”

On Monday, McIlroy put out a statement saying he’s going to take the next few weeks off and will skip this week’s Travelers Championship, which is a Signature Event.

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