PGA Championship
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Chile’s Mito Pereira (left) and Will Zalatoris shake hands on the 18th green after the the third round of the PGA Championship. Photo: TNS

PGA Championship: underdogs take a bite out of experienced field, as Chilean Mito Pereira seeks major breakthrough

  • None of the players in top four has ever won on the PGA Tour, let alone a major title
  • Pereira missed the cut in his only previous major tournament, the 2019 US Open

The PGA Championship’s underdogs had plenty of bite heading into Sunday’s final round in Tulsa, with none of the top four having ever won a PGA Tour event - let alone a major title.

Miserable conditions thrashed former major winners at Southern Hills Country Club but saw Chilean Mito Pereira, who missed the cut in his only prior major appearance at the 2019 U.S. Open, climb into the top spot after carding a one-under 69.

“It’s by far the biggest tournament I played, the biggest round of golf and tomorrow is going to be even bigger,” said Pereira, who withdrew from the Zurich Classic last month.

Matt Fitzpatrick celebrates after putting for birdie on 6 at Southern Hills Country Club. Photo: AP

Sitting three strokes behind him were Briton Matt Fitzpatrick (67), who has collected seven wins on the DP Tour, formerly the European Tour, but never cracked the PGA circuit, and American Will Zalatoris.

Zalatoris (73) claimed his sole professional win on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2020, though his shock second-place finish at Augusta last year earned him a spot among golf’s beloved dark horses.

“Just stick to my game,” he said. “Got nothing to lose tomorrow. I know I’m playing some really good golf, and hopefully at the end of the day it adds up to the lower score.”

Rounding out the surprise cohort was American Cameron Young (67), who is four strokes back from the lead after finishing tied for third at RBC Heritage in April and second at the Wells Fargo Championship earlier this month.

With past major winners Stewart Cink, Justin Thomas and Bubba Watson each seven strokes back headed into Sunday, there’s still a chance for a veteran to sneak his way into a win.

But Collin Morikawa’s win on his first try at the PGA Championship two years ago continues to inspire.

“That’s just how it is. If you play really good golf during the week, you’re going to win,” said Pereira. “Doesn’t matter your first time or your 10th time, if you play really, really well you’re, going to have chances.”