April 22, 2018 / 10:59 PM / 2 months ago

Golf: Chilean Niemann finishes sixth in stellar professional debut

(Reuters) - Former world number one amateur Joaquin Niemann made a brilliant professional debut when he finished sixth at the Texas Open on Sunday.

Apr 22, 2018; San Antonio, TX, USA; Joaquin Niemann reacts after making a birdie putt on the sixth green during the final round of the Valero Texas Open golf tournament at TPC San Antonio - AT&T Oaks Course. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The 19-year-old from Chile became the first man since Anthony Kim in 2006 to post a top-10 in his pro debut on the PGA Tour, according to the tour.

Kim tied for second at the Texas Open 12 years ago, going on to win three times on tour and playing on the victorious American Ryder Cup team in 2008.

Looking remarkably assured in his first pay-for-play appearance, Niemann used his textbook swing and confident putting stroke to card a five-under-par 67 at TPC Antonio.

He closed with three straight birdies, holing an eight-foot putt at the par-five 18th to finish at 12-under 276, five strokes behind American winner Andrew Landry.

“It’s amazing. It’s really nice to be standing with the best players in the world and be on the leaderboard,” Niemann told CBS television.

He was particularly pleased with his putting.

“Before this week my game was really good. Just my putter wasn’t good enough. Starting this week, my putter was working really well,” Niemann said.

Niemann was the world’s top-ranked amateur when he turned pro after missing the cut at the Masters two weeks ago.

He played on a sponsor exemption in San Antonio, and has accepted invitations to several other tournaments.

Courtesy of his top-10 finish, Niemann also qualified for the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina in two weeks.

Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Ed Osmond

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