Golfer helps raise $2.1M to buy 'world's most expensive drug' for sick baby

It is been a whirlwind six months at the path for the Santiago local and a sequence of remarkable effects have observed the 22-year-old spoil into the sector’s top-30 for the primary time.

It is occasions at house in Chile, on the other hand, that may outline this previous yr for Niemann.

Alternatively, glad video calls house to rejoice the arriving of a brand new circle of relatives member have been quick lived.

“After a few weeks, we discovered that he had a actually uncommon illness … at first, we had no thought what it used to be and over the years, we discovered that it used to be unhealthy.”

Niemann’s new-born cousin, Rafita Calderon, were identified with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), a unprecedented inherited dysfunction stemming from a faulty gene that ends up in the demise of nerve cells chargeable for transferring muscle mass that permit us to stroll, communicate, breathe and swallow, in line with the Nationwide Institute of Neurological Problems and Stroke.
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Niemann plays his shot from the tenth tee during the second round of The Honda Classic.Niemann plays his shot from the tenth tee during the second round of The Honda Classic.
Calderon required a one-time intravenous shot of the gene remedy medication Zolgensma, classified “the sector’s costliest drug.”
As many as 1 in eight,000 small children is estimated to be suffering from probably the most genetic mutations that reasons it. That comes with about 450 to 500 babies in the USA in step with yr, in line with a Novartis — the mother or father corporate which markets Zolgensma — commentary.

The remedy works through changing a operating reproduction of the faulty gene into the nerve cells earlier than they die and signs expand.

“We began getting actually apprehensive about it and a bit of determined for the reason that best medication and the one treatment to assist him reside for greater than two years would value $2.1 million — we have been going out of our minds,” explains Niemann.

“At first we have been like: ‘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 fundraising efforts in Chile, the rustic’s best-known golfer set about doing the whole thing he may just from his house clear of house, the PGA Excursion.

“Rafita began getting a large number of consideration on social media in Chile and so they made some huge cash, however it nonetheless wasn’t sufficient, so I made up our minds to start out donating cash throughout golfing tournaments,” says Niemann.

First of all donating $five,000 in step with birdie and $10,000 in step with eagle on height of the $152,450 he earned on the RSM Vintage in November, by the point December’s Mayakoba Vintage rolled round, information of Niemann’s fundraising efforts had unfold and fellow excursion execs together with the likes of Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler might be observed carrying white ribbons in toughen of the purpose.

Niemann wears a white ribbon to support the fund raising efforts for life saving Spinal Muscular Atrophy treatment for his infant cousin.Niemann wears a white ribbon to support the fund raising efforts for life saving Spinal Muscular Atrophy treatment for his infant cousin.

“To get such a lot toughen from the PGA Excursion, from the avid gamers and on social media used to be superb. Now we are in March and we were given the medication a month in the past, it feels superb to succeed in one thing like that,” stated Niemann.

“With one shot he can create the protein to get muscle mass, he is doing much better now and he can transfer … so confidently he will be alright,” he says.

With ideas in other places, Niemann will have been forgiven for shedding focal point on his sport in fresh months. Alternatively, with a sequence of very good performances to start out the 2021 season together with a 2nd position at The Match of Champions in January, he is within the type of his lifestyles and has completed a career-high score of 28.

Following his personal trail

Rising up in a rustic the place soccer laws, it is been an not going adventure for the Chilean, however one he appears again on fondly

“I began enjoying when I used to be more than likely round two or 3 years-old … I had 3 plastic golf equipment that I might elevate round my space always, I may just slightly stroll and I used to be swinging those golf equipment,” he laughs.

It did not take lengthy for Niemann’s herbal skill to be a magnet for the Chilean Golfing Federation and he earned a scholarship to the celebrated Athletic Find out about Centre in Santiago.

“There have been a large number of football avid gamers, tennis avid gamers and I might best have faculty for round 3 hours from eight a.m’-11 a.m. … After that, I used to be simply going to the golfing path to play, I believe that used to be the time the place I were given actually excellent.”

Niemann used to be quickly incomes invitations to play out of the country and started to rack up wins, attaining the highest of the sector newbie scores in Would possibly 2017, a place he would dangle for 44 weeks till he grew to become skilled in 2018.

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

Strolling right into a PGA Excursion locker room on the age of 19 can be a daunting prospect for any younger participant. Thankfully for Niemann, he shared an agent with Sergio Garcia, probably the most revered veterans on Excursion and a Masters winner, who went out of his approach to assist the teen settle in.

“At first I used to be feeling a bit of bizarre, I did not know the place the locker room used to be, I did not know the place the tee-box used to be, the place to sign in, I did not know anything else … He helped me so much, getting into to apply rounds, getting to grasp extra of the pro guys … I used to be a bit of bit fearful of being skilled however he made it really feel extra pleasant,” Niemann explains.

With the toughen of Garcia, it wasn’t lengthy earlier than the Chilean started to hit his stride. He earned an excellent win in his rookie season in 2020, claiming the Greenbrier Vintage through a outstanding six photographs to turn out to be the youngest global winner at the PGA Excursion since 1923.

With the 22-year-old now enjoying one of the crucial ultimate golfing of his profession, many are tipping the teen to kick on and upload to his PGA Excursion win cupboard this season.

One match specifically this yr sticks out for the Chilean, who, like maximum of his compatriots, has a huge sense of satisfaction in his place of birth.

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Niemann poses with the trophy after winning the Greenbrier Classic.Niemann poses with the trophy after winning the Greenbrier Classic.

“The Olympics, for me being from Chile is huge. I don’t believe everyone in golfing appears at it the similar means as I do, being from a small nation, it could be massive for Chile to have a golfing medal

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

‘Chi, chi, chi, le, le, le, viva Chile!’ is a chant that has traditionally been reserved for the ambitious nationwide soccer crew. With all of the nation at the back of him and his famous person proceeding to upward thrust, do not be shocked if this turns into the soundtrack to many a PGA Excursion Sunday sooner or later.

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