The PGA Tour star helps raise $ 2.1 million to save his cousin’s life

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It has been a whirlwind six months on the trail for the Santiago native, and a string of excellent outcomes noticed the 22-year-old enter the world’s high 30 for the primary time.

Nonetheless, it is the occasions at residence in Chile that can outline final 12 months for Niemann.

Nonetheless, the joyful residence video calls to have a good time the arrival of a brand new member of the family had been short-lived.

“After a few weeks, we found that he had a really uncommon illness … at first, we had no concept what it was and over time we realized it was severe.”

Niemann’s new child cousin Rafita Calderon was identified with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a uncommon inherited illness ensuing from a faulty gene that results in the demise of the nerve cells chargeable for shifting the muscle tissues that enable us to stroll, discuss, breathe and swallow, second on the Nationwide Institute of Neurological Issues and Strokes.
Calderon requested a one-time intravenous injection of the gene remedy drugs Zolgensma, labeled “the costliest drug on this planet”.
As many as 1 in 8,000 children it’s estimated to be affected by one of many genetic mutations that trigger it. That features about 450-500 infants in the US per 12 months, in line with one Novartis – the mum or dad firm that markets Zolgensma – declaration.

The remedy works by changing a working copy of the defective gene within the nerve cells earlier than they die and signs develop.

“We began to get actually apprehensive and somewhat bit determined as a result of the one drugs and the one treatment to assist him dwell for greater than two years would price $ 2.1 million – we had been going loopy,” says Niemann.

“At first we thought, ‘Oh my God, how are we going to do that? How are we going to get the cash? As a result of if we do not, he’ll die.'”

With Calderon’s father main the fundraiser in Chile, the nation’s most well-known golfer has began doing every little thing he can from his residence away from residence, the PGA Tour.

“Rafita began getting numerous consideration on social media in Chile and so they made some huge cash, nevertheless it nonetheless wasn’t sufficient, so I made a decision to start out donating cash throughout golf tournaments,” says Niemann.

Initially donating $ 5,000 per chicken and $ 10,000 per eagle along with the $ 152,450 earned on the RSM Basic in November, when the December Mayakoba Basic got here out, information of Niemann’s fundraising efforts had unfold and different tour professionals , together with Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler might be seen sporting white ribbons in help of the trigger.

Niemann wears a white ribbon to support fundraising efforts for the lifesaving treatment of spinal muscular atrophy for his newborn cousin.

“Getting a lot help from the PGA Tour, from gamers and on social media has been nice. Now it is March and we bought the drugs a month in the past, it is superb to get one thing like that,” Niemann stated.

“With one hit he can create the protein to get muscle, now he is doing loads higher and he can transfer … so hopefully he is high quality,” he says.

With ideas elsewhere, Niemann may have been forgiven for dropping deal with his recreation over the previous few months. Nonetheless, with a string of fantastic performances to start out the 2021 season, together with a second place end on the Event of Champions in January, he’s within the form of his life and has reached a 28th place in his profession.

Following his personal path

Rising up in a rustic the place soccer dominates, it was an unlikely journey for the Chilean, however one he appears to be like upon fondly

“I began taking part in after I was most likely about two or three years previous… I had three plastic golf equipment that I at all times carried round the home, I may barely stroll and swing these golf equipment,” he laughs.

It did not take lengthy for Niemann’s pure expertise to draw the eye of the Chilean Golf Federation and he was awarded a scholarship to the distinguished Santiago Athletic Research Middle.

“There have been numerous soccer gamers, tennis gamers and I’d solely have college for about three hours from 8:00 to 11:00 … After that, I used to be simply going to the golf course to play, I feel it was time during which I’ve turn into actually good at. ”

Niemann was quickly incomes invites to play abroad and started racking up victories, reaching the highest of the world newbie rankings in Might 2017, a place he’ll maintain for 44 weeks till turning professional in 2018.

Niemann reacts after winning the Greenbrier Classic, his first PGA Tour win.

Getting into a PGA Tour locker room on the age of 19 might be a frightening prospect for any younger participant. Fortunately for Niemann, he shared an agent with Sergio Garcia, one of many Tour’s most revered veterans and Masters winner, who went out of his method to assist the teen settle in.

“At first I felt a bit unusual, I did not know the place the locker room was, I did not know the place the tee-box was, the place to register, I did not know something … It helped me loads, coaching, attending to know the professionals higher … I used to be somewhat afraid to be skilled however he made him really feel friendlier, ”Niemann explains.

With Garcia’s help, it wasn’t lengthy earlier than the Chilean began taking his step. He scored a staggering win in his rookie season in 2020, claiming the Greenbrier Basic with a whopping six photographs to turn into the youngest worldwide PGA Tour winner since 1923.

With the 22-year-old now taking part in a number of the greatest golf programs of his profession, many are suggesting the teen kick off and add to his cupboard of PGA Tour wins this season.

One match particularly this 12 months stands out for the Chilean, who, like most of his countrymen, has an enormous sense of satisfaction in his homeland.

Niemann poses with the trophy after winning the Greenbrier Classic.

“The Olympics, for me from Chile, are nice. I do not assume everybody in golf appears to be like at it the identical method I do, being from a small nation, it will be large for Chile to have a golf medal.

“Having the chance to play within the Olympics and win a gold medal can be a dream come true for me and my nation,” he explains.

“Who, who, who, le, le, le, dwell Chile!” it’s a tune traditionally reserved for the formidable nationwide soccer staff. With the entire nation behind it and its star persevering with to develop, do not be stunned if this turns into the soundtrack of many PGA Sunday excursions going ahead.

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