Written by
LIV Golf Staff
Feb 03 2024
- 8 min
Niemann squat Bynder

PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico – Torque GC Captain Joaquin Niemann has popped champagne bottles atop the LIV Golf podium after team victories but never for an individual title. Now he’s 18 holes away from a dual celebration.

Niemann backed up his opening-round 12-under 59 with a solid 1-under 70 in windy conditions during Saturday’s second round at LIV Golf Mayakoba. At 13 under, he’ll take a four-stroke lead over Jon Rahm and Dean Burmester into Sunday’s final round at El Camaleon.

“Obviously in 18 holes there's a lot that can happen,” said Niemann said after his four-birdie, four-bogey round. “I'm just looking forward for that day. It's going to be a lot of fun. I'm going to play with Jon, which is going to be my first Sunday against him, and I was looking for that for a while.”

Rahm, the reigning Masters champ making his LIV Golf debut this week along with his expansion team Legion XIII, shot a 4-under 67 that he described as a “fantastic day on a much tougher golf course.” He hit a field-best 16 of 18 greens and made several par putts from 5-7 feet after an early bogey.

“I'm just happy that on my first start I have a chance to win. It's that simple,” Rahm said. “After having as much time off as I did, I'm always confident in myself, but I wasn't sure I was going to come out, and to start this way, I'm very, very pleased.”

Burmester’s 5-under 66 tied for low round of the day. Like Niemann, he’s celebrated a team win last year as a member of the Stinger GC but not an individual win. He’ll be in the final group off the first tee with Niemann and Rahm.

“Look, he’s the guy to catch,” Burmester said of Niemann. “There’s no better place to be than right behind him and watch what he’s doing because that can dictate what you need to do sometimes.”

Niemann’s Torque leads the team competition at 15 under, five stroke ahead of Rahm’s Legion XIII. Smash GC, with its revamped lineup that includes 2023 Individual Champion Talor Gooch, had the lowest team score (-8) on Saturday and moved into solo third.

For the first time in LIV Golf’s regular season, all four rounds will count towards the team scores on Sunday, thanks to a format change for the 2024 season. Torque will be looking for its fifth team victory overall, having won a league-leading four times last season.

“There's a lot of golf to play,” Niemann said. “There's four scorecards we've got to post tomorrow, which makes it more interesting.”


Standings and counting scores for Saturday’s second round of the team competition at LIV Golf Mayakoba. The three best scores from each team count in the first two rounds while all four scores count in the final round. The team with the lowest cumulative score after three rounds wins the team title.

1.TORQUE GC -15 (Niemann 70, Muñoz 70, Ortiz 71; Rd. 2 score -2)

2. LEGION XIII -10 (Rahm 67, Surratt 70, Hatton 70; Rd. 2 score -6)

3. SMASH GC -9 (Koepka 68, Kokrak 68, Gooch 69; Rd. 2 score -8)

4. STINGER GC -8 (Burmester 66, Oosthuizen 69, Schwartzel 76; Rd. 2 score - 2)

5. CRUSHERS GC -7 (Howell III 69, Casey 69, Lahiri 73; Rd. 2 score -2)

6. RIPPER GC -6 (Smith 70, Herbert 70, Jones 73; Rd. 2 score E)

7. FIREBALLS GC -4 (Garcia 70, Chacarra 70, Puig 73; Rd. 2 score E)

T8. MAJESTICKS GC -2 (Poulter 68, Horsfield 69, Westwood 70; Rd. 2 score -6)

T8. CLEEKS GC -2 (Meronk 70, Bland 74, Samooja 75; Rd. 2 score +6)

10. 4ACES GC -1 (Johnson 71, Reed 73, Varner III 76; Rd. 2 score +7)

11. IRON HEADS GC E (Na 70, Lee 73, Vincent 73; Rd. 2 score +3)

T12. RANGEGOATS GC +1 (Watson 69, Pieters 72, Wolff 73; Rd 2 score +1)

T12. HYFLYERS GC +1 (Steele 66, Tringale 70, Mickelson 77; Rd. 2 score E)


For the first time in the LIV Golf regular season, every score will count from every player toward their team’s total score in Sunday’s final round of LIV Golf Mayakoba.

Format changes for the 2024 season announced earlier in this week included the adjustment for the final round for all regular-season tournaments. In the previous 20 regular-season events dating back to the inaugural 2022 beta-season, just three scores counted for their teams in the final round.

Prior to Sunday, the only rounds in which all scores have counted for their teams have been on the final day of the two season-ending Team Championships.

“I think that's the way it should have always been,” said second-round leader Joaquin Niemann, whose Torque GC team tops the team leaderboard at 15 under, five strokes ahead of Jon Rahm’s expansion team, Legion XIII.

“I haven't experienced anything else,” said Rahm, making his LIV Golf debut this week, “so I think it's better because even if you don't have your best two first days, your score still matters. There's nobody going to be out there kind of just like, today doesn't matter.”

Said Ripper GC Captain Cameron Smith, whose team will start the final round in sixth place but just three shots off the podium: “I think a tougher test on Sunday for the teams is definitely probably a good thing. … A team could technically be up five or six with one hole to play, and it's really not over around here, so it'll be interesting.”

With every score counting, there should be more volatility on the leaderboard, with big moves potentially happening very quickly.

“I definitely think it'll be a bit more volatile,” said Majesticks GC Co-Captain Ian Poulter, whose team will start the final round tied for eighth. “Everyone has got to do their bit, right? No one can hide tomorrow, which is good. Everyone needs to perform well tomorrow.”


RAHM’S CAPTAIN DUTIES: Jon Rahm and his expansion Legion XIII finished their debut round Friday at LIV Golf Mayakoba tied for seventh on the team leaderboard. Now they’re lurking in second place through 36 holes, thanks to Rahm’s 4-under 67 and a couple of 1-under 70s by Tyrrell Hatton and 19-year-old Caleb Surratt, making his professional debut this week.

Rahm spent his first post-LIV Golf round as captain checking on Surratt, who was not feeling well.

“I was making sure he was eating food after the round because I’ve been in that spot where you’re a little nervous, maybe your stomach is not feeling the greatest and you don’t want to eat,” Rahm said. “… I was a bit of a sergeant last night and this morning making sure he ate all the food he needed to, and I'm glad it worked out.”

Prior to Saturday’s round, Rahm said he sent the team a motivational video.

“I don’t know if they saw it or not,” he said. “I think they did, and clearly it worked out. That might be my duty in the future – keep finding motivational videos to send them, and hopefully finding good ones.”

TORQUE HOPING TO EMULATE CRUSHERS: Last year at LIV Golf Mayakoba, Charles Howell III won the individual title, and his Crushers GC won the team trophy. They finished the 2023 season with the biggest team title at the Team Championship.

Although Torque won four times in the regular season, they came up short in Miami. Captain Joaquin Niemann hopes that opening the 2024 season with a victory could provide the same spark that the Crushers enjoyed.

“Crushers won in Mayakoba, and they ended up winning the season,” Niemann said. “It would be nice to start winning here for the first time.”

OFFSEASON BOUNCE FOR NIEMANN, BURMESTER: During the LIV Golf offseason, Joaquin Niemann won the Australian Open, while Dean Burmester won twice back at home in South Africa on the DP World Tour.

They’ve been able to carry that form into this week’s season opener, an advantage over others who may have come in with offseason rust since the Team Championship in Miami last October.

“It's a long break from Miami until here. If you're not playing any golf, that's a long break away from tournament golf,” Burmester said.

“I'm fortunate enough to still be able to play in South Africa. That was kind of a culmination of a whole year of playing pretty solid, and then to go and win those two events has just boosted my confidence. I've got great belief in what I can do and what I'm doing, and I think Joaco feels the exact same thing.

“Getting a win under your belt gives you so much confidence for a prolonged period of time. It doesn't matter where you hit it, you still believe you can do something with it.”

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