For Mito Pereira, the PGA Championship was a tournament that promised a lot, before ending with a crushingly terrible blow. Heading into the 18th hole, the Chilean was in the lead, before victory fell through his grasp in only a couple of strokes.
Pereira was having a great weekend. The young golfer, who turned 27 in March, only made the switch to the PGA Tour in the summer of 2021, and it was only his second start in a major. If he had any nerves, they weren’t showing. A strong performance across the weekend had him set for a surprise win. An upset was certainly on the cards, and fans on sites like Betdaq would have been optimistic if they backed Pereira before the tournament teed off.
He came into the day with a three-stroke lead and, under pressure from the likes of Cameron Young and Justin Thomas, he carried the lead into the final two holes. That’s where it started to unravel for the Chilean.
On the 17th green, Pereira faced a birdie putt that would have seen him take a two-stroke lead into the last hole. He was short by a couple of centimetres. It was a wasted opportunity, but not a fatal blow.
He headed to the 18th, needing a par score on the last to secure the major. He teed off, and drove his ball into a small creek. A nightmare for the Chilean, who saw his chances of glory fade away, ending the last with a double bogey.
The tournament went to a playoff, which Pereira didn’t even qualify for. The sudden change had punters trying to figure out what is a betting exchangeas they, like Pereira, could only watch on and try and predict the winner. Justin Thomas and Will Zalatoris went head-to-head for victory, and it was Thomas who came out triumphant.
The American had been one over after six holes, but he put together a strong run to end the day. Four birdies in his final 10 holes saw Thomas top the leaderboard after Pereira’s poor finish. Thomas tied the record set by John Mahaffey, who also came from seven behind to win a play-off, in the 1978 edition of the tournament.
“It was a bizarre day,”he said afterwards. “It’s funny, I was asked earlier in the week about what lead is safe, and I said, ‘no lead’. This place is so tough. But if you hit the fairways, you can make birdies and I stayed so patient, I just couldn’t believe I found myself in a play-off.”
Pereira, speaking to the press after the fact, looked surprisingly composed. He had a simple explanation of what went wrong on the 18th tee: “I just wanted to put it in play, and I guess I aimed too far right”. While he looked calm and in control throughout the weekend, he later went on to explain that was not how he was feeling.
“I thought I was nervous the first day,” he said. “Then I thought I was nervous the second day. Then I thought I was nervous on the third day, but the fourth day was terrible. I mean, this morning was tough.”
It remains to be seen whether a major win is a possibility in Pereira’s career. He’s a talented golfer, and his profile has risen massively over this weekend. It’s certainly not off the cards that, at some point in the future, Pereira finds himself teeing off the last hole, a major within his grasp. He’s shown he already knows how to lose a major from that position. Next time, perhaps that experience will help him win one.