Joaquin Niemann shares lead at Memorial as Tiger Woods draws crowds

Joaquin Niemann is making his fifth start as a pro. Picture: David Dermer/AP.
Joaquin Niemann is making his fifth start as a pro. Picture: David Dermer/AP.
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Joaquin Niemann could figure out where Tiger Woods was on the golf course from the mass of people following him a few groups ahead, and he had a pretty good idea what he was doing from all the noise, at least before Woods got a putter in his hands.

“There was so many people,” Niemann said.

The few that stuck behind for the 19-year-old Chilean saw another good show. In his fifth start as a pro, Niemann finished with two birdies over his last three holes for a 4-under 68 and a share of the second-round lead with Kyle Stanley, who had a 66. He finished with an eight-foot birdie on the 18th hole.

Woods made Muirfield Village sound like a rock concert until storms arrived. He holed out with a sand wedge from 97 yards for an eagle on the par-5 11th hole, and then his tee shot on the par-3 12th struck the flag waving in the wind and settled six feet behind the hole. And then he sat out a weather delay that lasted just under 90 minutes, and he missed four putts under seven feet the rest of the way.

“It could have been easily a nice little 62 or 63,” Woods said. “I turned it into a 67.”

And he was six shots behind with nearly two dozen players in front of him. Stanley, who won the Quicken Loans National last summer, was atop the leaderboard for much of the day and was starting to pull away until a poor tee shot at six led to a bogey. He finished with a par save from just off the ninth green and reached 11-under 133.

On the other side of the course was Niemann, the No.1 amateur in the world and Latin American Amateur champion who wanted to play the Masters before turning pro. He looks his age when his braces shine every time he smiles. He plays beyond his years.

Already with a pair of top 10s on the PGA Tour, Niemann now finds himself in the last group going into the third round.