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May 31, 2018
DOUG MILNE: All right. We'll get started with Joaquin Niemann here at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide. 7-under 65 in round one here at the Memorial. Obviously you favor the course and just a couple comments on the 65 today.
JOAQUIN NIEMANN: Yeah, it was really nice being out there and playing good golf. I made a lot of birdies. I hit it really good from tee to green, so really happy how it goes today.
DOUG MILNE: Your confidence level, you must be feeling pretty good. You've had a couple of top-10s in Texas recently and now here you are today. Are you kind of riding a wave of confidence right now?
JOAQUIN NIEMANN: Yeah, after having played in four tournaments and I have been playing really well, so my game is feeling really nice. And, yeah, after those two top-10s, I have gained a lot of confidence in my game and I'm also feeling better and I feel able to be out here and play good golf.
DOUG MILNE: Take a few questions, please.
Q. Are you surprised at all at how quickly this success has come on TOUR and secondly, what has allowed you to have such quick success?
JOAQUIN NIEMANN: Yeah, I think that it has been all really quick. Two months ago I was playing the Masters as an amateur and right now I'm already played four tournaments as a pro and it feels really nice. I just really am enjoying what I'm doing now and still I love golf. So being out here, playing with the best players, it can't be any better.
Q. Who is Chile's greatest golfer ever?
JOAQUIN NIEMANN: I don't know.
JOAQUIN NIEMANN: I don't want to say that.
Q. When you were playing, you would have had to look beyond --
JOAQUIN NIEMANN: In Chile the best player --
Q. To find someone that you kind of looked up to. Was it strictly off television or did you look maybe to Argentina or what?
JOAQUIN NIEMANN: Yeah, there wasn't any player from Chile on the PGA TOUR when I was watching TV. But, yeah, there was a good player from Chile that is playing on the Rio Grande Tour for like 12 years, Felipe Aguilar, and I don't have like any role model from Chile.
Q. Who was your role model?
JOAQUIN NIEMANN: I don't have any.
Q. How did you get involved in golf? And at what point did you realize this is what you wanted to do?
JOAQUIN NIEMANN: Yeah, I started playing golf when I was like four years old. I started because of my dad. He played golf, but just for fun. I think that was the way how I started playing golf. I started to get, when I was like 14, 15 years old, I decided that this is what I wanted to do in the future and that was it.
Q. How often do you run into people that are amazed at your age that you're only 19? And do you get kidded about that by other TOUR guys? Kenny Perry come up to you and call you grandson or what's going on there?
JOAQUIN NIEMANN: Yeah, I can't wait until November when I turn 20 so no more teen years. But, yeah, it feels good to be like one of the youngest players. And, yeah, it feels nice to be out here with -- I played with Fred Couples at the Masters and he was calling me every day, "good shot, kid." So but, yeah, it's fun.
Q. Have you had a chance to kind of find the base camp for you here in the States, or has it just been too much traveling that you really haven't needed to?
JOAQUIN NIEMANN: A what?
Q. Like where you're going to live in the U.S.?
JOAQUIN NIEMANN: Yeah, I just moved like a month ago to Jupiter. I'll be living there with a friend from Chile, Claudio Correa, so it will be nice.
Q. Where do you play?
JOAQUIN NIEMANN: I don't know yet.
Q. Where would you like to play?
JOAQUIN NIEMANN: I mean there's so many good places that it doesn't matter.
Q. Did you watch the NCAA regionals and see South Florida? Did you follow them at all this spring or anything?
JOAQUIN NIEMANN: Yeah, I watched them because of Claudio, he's a good friend of mine. But, yeah, he didn't, they didn't play well. They, I think they missed it to nationals. But, yeah, it was nice to watch all the NCAAs and think that I maybe was going to be there playing and now that I'm here, it feels way better.
Q. How aware are you of your sort of chase for special temporary membership and membership on the TOUR in terms of your points? Is it something you're watching and trying to do in your starts?
JOAQUIN NIEMANN: Sorry?
Q. How aware are you of your points for your special temporary membership, membership going forward?
JOAQUIN NIEMANN: Yeah, I don't like to think about that. I just want to be out here and enjoy my round and try to play my best and see how it goes after, after all.
Q. Do you watch leaderboards any? Are you a leaderboard watcher?
JOAQUIN NIEMANN: Yeah, there are leaderboards everywhere, so I can't avoid them.
Q. You may have discussed this, I apologize. Why so good today? What was working for you and was the course soft and enabled you to kind of take some target practice?
JOAQUIN NIEMANN: Yeah, the course was really soft. The greens also were really soft so you just were playing for the number. You weren't thinking of how much the ball is going to roll. But, yeah, I think that also the fairways were really soft, the drivers didn't go so far. So I think I was hitting a lot of 7- and 6-irons on to the greens. But, yeah, it was nice.
Q. Is it too early to think about winning or being in position to win on the weekend?
JOAQUIN NIEMANN: Yeah, I don't like to put expectations on me. I still have three more rounds and everything can happen. But obviously I would like it to be on top on Sunday.
Q. Forgive me for not knowing the cultural differences totally, but in the States 21 is legal, legal. What is it in Chile and what obstacles have you found a way from the course being 19 that maybe you've come up, if any?
JOAQUIN NIEMANN: In Chile it's 18, you are -- so in Chile I'm a big guy. Not here.
Q. How does that work? Friends?
JOAQUIN NIEMANN: What?
Q. Do you have friends?
JOAQUIN NIEMANN: I'm sorry. I don't understand.
Q. What do you consider the best part of your game?
JOAQUIN NIEMANN: I think that these last couple weeks has been my tee shots, my driver I think I like to hit, I can be in the fairway a lot with my driver.
Q. Who have you been playing practice rounds with? Do you have a lot of friends out here yet?
JOAQUIN NIEMANN: No, I don't think I have played like many practice rounds with a lot of players, because almost no one plays on Monday and I play on Monday. And then on Wednesday they all play pro-am and I'm not playing in the pro-am. So kind of like I almost play alone, like a couple of rounds. And also play with Mexican guys and the Latin guys from Argentina.
Q. In the few PGA TOUR events you've played, starting with the Masters, what is it about this course that you like or that's different from some of the ones you played so far?
JOAQUIN NIEMANN: Yeah, this is really different between the one I played last week in Colonial. That course, you just got to put the ball in position, doesn't matter, you can hit driver, 4-irons, hybrid, whatever you want. Here you must hit drivers or 3-woods and be down there, because it's a long course and you want to be on the fairway, obviously.
Q. What do you like about this one? What features about the course do you like?
JOAQUIN NIEMANN: Everything. It's a nice course.
Q. From when you won the Latin American, and then go to play Augusta, how did you stay, how did you get ready for it without playing any big tournaments?
JOAQUIN NIEMANN: I feel like I was a little bit prepared by playing the U.S. Open last year. Like I learned a little bit how it was going to be, playing with the TOUR guys. But, yeah, I think that I was really good at the Masters, I just didn't play good enough to make the cut.
Q. What starts do you have coming up and if you play well this week and get special temporary, does that change?
JOAQUIN NIEMANN: At the moment I just, I'm just playing the next week, sectionals on Monday.
Q. Where at? Columbus or Springfield?
JOAQUIN NIEMANN: Yeah, here in Columbus.
Q. One more important question. You know what's coming, probably. How old were you when you first beat your dad in golf?
JOAQUIN NIEMANN: He's not listening, right? When I was maybe like 12, 11. Yeah.
Q. What's his handicap?
JOAQUIN NIEMANN: He's like 20. 18.
Q. Was that hard for him?
JOAQUIN NIEMANN: Maybe a little bit, yeah.
DOUG MILNE: Well thank you for coming in. Congratulations.
JOAQUIN NIEMANN: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports