TULSA (Oklahoma): Chile’s Mito Pereira has withstood brutal heat, punishing winds, rain and cold but on Sunday major pressure will be the challenge as he takes a three-shot lead into the final round of the PGA Championship.
In just his second major Pereira has played with veteran poise at Southern Hills Country Club but faces the ultimate test of closing the deal and becoming the first PGA Tour rookie since Keegan Bradley at the 2011 PGA Championship to win a major.
The 27-year-old leading at nine-under is being chased by three players who are also bidding for a first major and like him have not yet won on the PGA Tour.
Britain’s Matt Fitzpatrick and Will Zalatoris start three back with Cameron Young four off the pace.
Fitzpatrick, who will join Pereira in the final pair going out at 2:35 ET (1835 GMT), has collected seven wins on the DP Tour but in 27 majors has a single top 10 result from finishing in a tie for seventh at the 2016 Masters.
Ahead of them will be the American pair of Zalatoris, runner-up at the 2021 Masters and Young, who like Pereira had never made the cut at a major until Southern Hills.
Mexico’s Abraham Ancer will start five back and Ireland’s Seamus Power six behind.
Pereira might be looking over his shoulder a little further down the leaderboard where a trio of major winners will be on the charge, twice Masters champion Bubba Watson, 2017 PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas and 2009 British Open champion Stewart Cink who are all seven off the pace on two-under.
The final round will be missing its marquee attraction with Tiger Woods withdrawing from the tournament on Saturday after carding one of his worst rounds ever at a major tournament - a nine-over 79.
Woods, in his second start after a car crash 15 months ago nearly cost him his right leg, appeared dejected and in pain as he trudged off the 18th green and later announced he was pulling out of the season’s second major.
The last time Woods withdrew from a tournament was in 2019 prior to the second round of the Northern Trust. It is the first time he has withdrawn from a major since the U.S. Open in 1995.
Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2022