Joaquin Niemann of Chile certainly seems to like Florida, its golf courses and its weather.
A year ago, Niemann, at age 16, marched past an elite international field to win the Junior Orange Bowl International Golf Championship, and after the first round of this year’s event, Niemann apparently is looking to repeat.
Niemann, 17, was tied for the lead after Sunday’s opening round, shooting a 2-under-par 69 on the Biltmore Golf Course in Coral Gables.
“My goal is to be a golfer,” Niemann said, and by recent performances it looks as though he is well on his way.
And Florida is a big part of making it to the professional world of golf for Niemann. Although still living in Chile and set to graduate a year from now (Chile’s school year ends in December), he has already verbally committed to the University of South Florida.
Neimann readily admits school and courses are not his biggest areas of attention. Asked what classes he likes in school, he answered with a smile, “Nothing.”
Apparently, the kid will be quite happy hitting a golf ball for the rest of his life.
“When I finish college, I want to turn pro,” he said definitively.
There is no doubt Niemann has a lot of confidence.
Of the 69 he shot Sunday, he said, “Monday, I will do better. I want to win this tournament for a second time.”
Besides turning professional, one achievement Niemann desires is to be a part of the Chilean Olympic team, not for the 2016 Olympics — that’s too early — but the following one.
“That would be great,” he said.
Besides liking pretty much everything about Florida in general, Niemann is particularly enamored of the Biltmore course and its greens.
“They are Bermuda, and that’s more difficult,” he said. “And I like more difficult.”
In the girls’ division, Emilia Migliaccio of Cary, North Carolina, held the lead with the lowest score of the day by either a boy or girl, a 3-under 68. In second, one stroke back, was Euikyung Shin of South Korea.
Play in the four-round tournament continues Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with admission free to the public.