Friday is a special day in golf. It is the round that determines the cut of each contest, the possibility of remaining in the first half of the board and playing the defining rounds on Saturday and Sunday. The difference between competing to the end or being sadly eliminated.
Joaquin Niemann's Friday in the PGA Championship 2018 was even more special. For him and for all Chile. It is that never before a Chilean had been able to pass the qualifying cut of a major and although yesterday's round was suspended due to rain, the national is 49th and, in practice, is insured his passage to the weekend of the tournament that he disputes in the Bellerive Country Club of St. Louis, Missouri.
In addition, as graph the table, Niemann broke the Chilean record of score in a first round, which belonged to Hugo León; also yesterday broke the best day, although it was not entirely positive, it ended on par. A blow over what the court calls for. Obviously, the -1 in the accumulated 36 holes (two days) is another record that falls.
But Joaco faced a elimination scenario on the day. Not from the beginning, since he started the day with the mattress of two blows under the pair he had got on Thursday, which placed him 16th, four hits from the leader, Gary Woodland; but from the second half of the course, when the score no longer favored him and the phantom of failing the cut approached dangerously (although he never reached it). Joaco's blows chart his day (see table, considering he started from hole 10 and finished in 9).
The first nine opposing flags saved them in a good way. The holes par three were those that marked that part of the field. In the first two he played he birdied (one under par), after hitting brilliantly with the putter the shots that seek the hole and that were not easy. The ball was about five meters from the flag in both cases and Niemann did not shake. But in the next par three he failed at the start. The mistake he amended in the following flag, the hard hole 17, which negotiated in a great way locating the ball in the precise places of the fairway to reach the green in three suits.
That great first part even had to the Chilean between the five best ones of the table.
But the second half of the route was the most complicated. Arena, first, and a shot too short, then, they forced him to score bogey (one over the pair) in hole one, and in two, the worst: a double bogey.
In that stop, par four, the second ball of the Chilean went to the water and was lost, so he had to shoot again, punished, ball that this time went to the arena.
The error did not deconcentrate it. Proof of that is that he scored birdie on the next flag, another par three. When Joaco marked the bogeys in holes five and six was when the matter became dangerous. The projection of the cut, which passes the 70 best scores plus their draws, was right under his name on the board. Thus it arrived at the final hole, that did not doubt in attacking. The first shot, although it went a little to the right, left him with a view of the green. The second was one meter away from the target. Hitting was fundamental and Joaco did not fail.
Having gone to rest with uncertainty would have been a test to their nerves, even more so if we consider that the round was suspended later due to climatic problems. But Niemann had already fulfilled the story. Although it was necessary that a good part of the players finished the round, in practice it is impossible for the national to fall from 49th to 71st place.