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Joaquin Niemann has started the year in dominant fashion on the LIV Golf league. 

The 25-year-old Chilean has won two of the first three events on the Saudi-backed breakaway tour in Mexico and Jeddah.

He now has the special invitation to the Masters he craved, whilst also revealing he has been added to the field for the PGA Championship. But Augusta National chiefs made no indication that Niemann’s discretionary pick had anything to do with his form on Greg Norman’s tour.

• LIV golfer’s slow play penalty costs him £200,000

• Keith Pelley makes prediction over PGA Tour/LIV Golf future

Instead, his impressive finishes on the DP World Tour in LIV’s off-season, including victory at the Australian Open and fourth-place at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic, helped him gain entry to the first major of the year.

LIV continues to go unrecognised by the Official World Ranking board due to concerns over its meritocracy and player pathways, which has forced players to find alternate routes into the career-defining tournaments.

Yet there is now debate over whether the standard on the fledgling 54-player LIV series is now superior to events on the established European circuit.

Thomas Pieters, who joined LIV last year when he looked destined for a Ryder Cup place, is adamant the quality on LIV far outweighs the level of his former domain.

• Ian Poulter sounds off on his Ryder Cup future

• Tiger Woods might have found his way into the US Open

“Coming from the DP World Tour, the standard of golf is ten times better than what I used to play,” he told Gulf News.

“You can’t hide out here. As you can see from my results, I haven’t had the best year – if you’re average or have a bad week you’re going to finish last or in the last five which sucks, but that’s just the way it is.

“LIV is getting very strong.”

Six-time DP World Tour winner Pieters has struggled to perform on the LIV circuit and the tour has continued to strengthen its field with the additions of Jon Rahm, Adrian Meronk and Tyrrell Hatton.

The Belgian finished in the top ten just once last season and is yet to finish inside the top 30 this term. He was ranked No.35 in the world when he joined LIV, but is now to 307th following a dramatic decline without regular access to points.

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Ben Parsons joined bunkered as a Content Producer in 2023 and is the man to come to for all of the latest news, across both the professional and amateur games. Formerly of The Mirror and Press Association, he is a member at Halifax Golf Club and is a long-suffering fan of both Manchester United and the Wales rugby team.

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