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Moving Day Sputters, Periera Overtakes Zalatoris at 2022 PGA Championship


Chilean golfer Guillermo Pereira, Jr. – “Mito” as he likes to be called – took a three stroke lead at the 104th PGA Championship at Southern Hills on Saturday with a 1-under 69. He stands at 9-under for the tournament.

Starting one shot behind and paired with leader Will Zalatoris in the final group, he seized the lead with a birdie on the second hole and held it the rest of the day despite bogeying four out of five holes during the middle of the round. But birdies at 13, 14, and 18 gave him separation from the rest of the field, many of whom struggled, including overnight leader Zalatoris who bogeyed four of the first five holes. Zalatoris’s 73 dropped a tie for second with Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick. Cameron Young finished the day alone in fourth, four shots back at 5-under.

None of the four golfers in Sunday’s final two pairings has won a major. In fact, the Gil Hanse/Jim Wagner renovated Ssouthern Hills has been particularly cruel to major winners this time around.

Sure, Shaun Micheel, John Daly, and Rich Beem, are ceremonial golfers now (welcome of course, as major winners always are, except Billy Casper, who as you’ll recall shot 106 at age 73 in the Masters, then didn’t turn in his scorecard in his card). But Martin Kaymer, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott, Y.E. Yang, Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson, and Padraig Harrington still are still competitive at the highest level.

They all missed the cut, most of them by a wide margin.

There are only four major champions in the top 14 players on the scoreboard. All eyes were on Rory Mcilroy after his opening 65 gave him the first round lead, but his 74 yesterday dropped him to Level par, nine strokes behind Pereira. Justin Thomas, and Patrick Reed likewise stayed stagnant or moved backwards on moving day. And Webb Simpson, who made the cut on the number is seeking a Rory-like back-door high finish without really contending in the clutch.

And then there’s Tiger Woods, who withdrew after a third round 79 had him tied for last place with Sepp Straka of Austria. Woods was obviously hurting, hobbled by the severe one-car crash and subsequent leg surgeries. After reaching 2-under after for holes on Thursday, he began a slow, steady drop down the leaderboard, limping much of the while.

Through the first three rounds, Perieira leads the field in both driving accuracy and greens in regulation. With his putter sizzling through the first three days as well, it’s no surprise that although unheralded, he leads the tournament. Pereira seeks to become the fist Chilean golfer to ever win a major. His career this far as a professional had been tepid and lackluster thus far. He’s only played in one other major before this where he missed the cut. That being said he has been at or under par his past 19 consecutive professional rounds.

As an aside, Pereira is fond of dirt biking, leading CBS commentator to dub Pereira “fearless.” If that’s the 2022 standard for fearless, I hear by invite Nantz to call my next mogul run down Dino’s Drop at Stratton. With that as the standard, I’ll show you fearless every weekend.