Wesley Bryan has the fastest round on record on the PGA TOUR, 1:29 at the BMW Championship.
The record-breaking round was a welcome diversion amid the tension of Patrick Cantlay and Jon Rahm trading blows with the $15 million FedExCup first prize on the line.
It also won Niemann some fans.
Brendan Reilly and Will Arsenault, students at the University of Miami who were in town for the Hurricanes’ football game against Alabama on Saturday, were sweating and out of breath on 18.
“We saw him at 11 and realized he was only an hour into his round,” Reilly said. “He picked up the pace and next thing you knew he was on 14 already, and it was on from there.”
Added Arsenault, “There were a good 30 to 40 kids like us running with him. Never in my life did I see myself participating in a Tiger moment like this. He really grew a following.”
Tyler and Evan Henley, teenagers from Beaufort, Georgia, carried the scoring standard and were also exhausted and pushing fluids by the end of the round. “I wrestle,” said Tyler, 17, “so I’m probably in the best condition I’ll be in, and it still wore me out.”
Did they know on the first tee what Niemann was going to do?
“No,” Tyler said. “He was talking to his caddie; me and my and my brother heard the word ‘run.’ Then he kind of took off and then stopped, so we thought he was jokin’ around and he was gonna take it kinda slow. And then on 10 and he just took off.”
Told at the turn he was off the pace; Niemann knew he had to step on it. He had double-bogeyed the eighth hole, a misadventure that seemed to take forever. It was time to blow off some steam. Although he professes to hate running since his school days, when he ran track, he took off down the 10th fairway, telling the brothers over his shoulder, “We’re beating this record!”
The next five holes were a blur. When Niemann reached the watery, par-3 15th hole, Stewart Cink and Hideki Matsuyama, who’d started 10 minutes behind him, were teeing off at the eighth. Niemann and Matthews resolved to finish the round before Cink and Matsuyama finished the front nine. Niemann hit the 15th green and made a 29-foot birdie putt, his shot of the day.
Really, though, it was the time that he would remember, and being on the clock – in a good way.
“It’s been a long week, a long three or four weeks,” he said, “and I wasn’t playing my best golf this week. I was in last place and wasn’t going to win. I was pretty far behind from the guys in front of me, so I was like, let’s make it fun and have fun. It was a lot of fun.”