Joaquin Niemann is playing for much more than a trophy this week at the Mayakoba Golf Classic. He's pledged to donate all of his earnings from the event to help save his infant cousin's life.
While the 22-year-old Chilean was shooting a 5-under in Round 1 to sit one shot off the lead, his one-month-old cousin, Rafita, was back home in Chile fighting a rare neurodegenerative disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy.
"It's big for me and for my family in Chile," Niemann said. "Having all the support from all the people here on Tour is really amazing, and also from Mexico. The tournament, they're helping me a lot to tell a little bit more of the story of Rafita, so happy for all the support of the players. We're fighting for him."
The diagnosis carries an average life expectancy of two years without any treatment. However, a single treatment for the disease costs $2.1 million, according to the GoFundMe page set up by Niemann, which is what all the money raised would pay for.
Niemann also donated all of the money he earned two weeks ago at the RSM Classic, which ended up totaling over $150,000. A top finish in Mexico would go a long way in helping Rafita, with the winner's check worth $1.296 million.
"It's always extra motivation trying to play for him and get some more money for him, so yeah, it's special," Niemann continued.
Players at the Mayakoba Golf Classic are wearing ribbons on their hats to raise awareness and show support for Rafita's battle.