Who is Mito Pereira? Unheralded rookie leads PGA Championship heading into final round

TULSA, Oklahoma — Mito Pereira is a surprise contender at the 2022 PGA Championship, entering Sunday’s final round with a three-shot lead on Will Zalatoris.

For those friendly sports wagerers among us, Pereira is looking like a great longshot pick, as Tipico had him at +140000 to win at Southern Hills Country Club before the tournament started.

But golf fans have been hearing his name for a while. The PGA Tour rookie earned his card after getting promoted from the Korn Ferry Tour in June 2021 via the Three-Victory Promotion, the first player to earn that since 2016 and 12th overall.

Pereira, who hails from Santiago, Chile, and grew up playing against Joaquin Niemann, is ranked 100th in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Here are five things to know about the unheralded rookie leading the PGA Championship heading into Sunday’s final round:

Played one college season before turning pro

Pereira was a member of the 2014-15 men’s golf team at Texas Tech. He finished second on the team with a 72.2 scoring average and was named to the All-Big 12 Championship team.

Nearly medaled at the Olympics

Pereira represented his home country of Chile in the men’s golf competition at the Summer Olympics in Japan in 2021.

He almost brought home some hardware, too, as he finished at 15 under and ended up in a wild seven-way playoff for the bronze medal along with Rory McIlroy, Collin Morikawa, Paul Casey, Sebastian Munoz and C.T. Pan. Pan eventually won the third-place prize.

Who is Mito Pereira? Unheralded rookie leads PGA Championship heading into final round

Best PGA Tour finish is a solo third

Pereira has played in 27 PGA Tour events and made 17 cuts. His highest career finish is a solo third at the Fortinet Championship in September of 2021. It remains his lone top-10 finish. He finished tied for 17th in the AT&T Byron Nelson a week ago tuning up for Southern Hills.

Playing in just his second major

Pereira missed the cut in the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. The 2022 PGA Championship marks his second start in a major championship.

PGA win would be worth more than his career earnings

Pereira is staring down a first-place prize of $2.7 million with a win at Southern Hills. The PGA of America announced a $15 million purse and an increase in the winner’s check from $2.16 that Phil Mickelson won a year ago.

The $2.7 million would eclipse his total career earnings of $2,618,115.

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