Mito Pereira Leads, Bunched Leaderboard Follows Heading into Sunday
A bunched leaderboard at Southern Hills Country Club chasing Mito Pereira has once again set the stage for what should be a thrilling final round at the PGA Championship.
With just 16 golfers in red figures through 54 holes, there are plenty of guys who could make some noise Sunday. And with each of the top four golfers not having won on the PGA Tour – let alone a Major Championship – what will the pressure feel like as they try to raise the Wanamaker Trophy?
“If you play really good golf during the week, you’re going to win,” said 54-hole leader Mito Pereira. “Doesn’t matter your first time or your 10th time, if you play really, really well you’re going to have chances,” said Pereira.
Pereira, who leads at 9-under through 54 holes, shot 69 on Saturday after righting the ship late in his round. Pereira, who won three times on the Korn Ferry Tour last season to earn automatic promotion to the PGA Tour, was 4-over through five holes at the mid-point of his round. But he rallied with birdies on Nos. 13 and 14 before rolling in another testy putt on the par-4 18th.
“I was playing really good and suddenly I made four bogeys in five holes. It was a tough place to be in that moment. But just found myself... so really happy how I ended up playing. The birdie on 18 was a bonus,” said Pereira. “Just happy to be in this position.”
Pereira will be in the final group Sunday with Matt Fitzpatrick.
Even though Fitzpatrick hasn’t won on the PGA Tour, he has won seven times on the DP World Tour. The Englishman rallied for a 3-under 67 on Saturday after making back-to-back bogeys to start his round.
“I’m just really proud of the way that I battled back and didn’t really let it faze me, so, obviously, a very good round in the end, and like I said, looking ready to tomorrow,” said Fitzpatrick. “I’m just looking forward to it. I’ve spoken about it with my coaches at length about my major record. You know, I’ve always just said to them, 'I just want to give myself a chance because I backed myself at the end of the day.'”
Fitzpatrick is tied with Will Zalatoris at 6-under through 54 holes, three shots back of Pereira.
Zalatoris, named the PGA Tour’s Rookie of the Year last year, was 4-over for his first seven holes, but carded a pair of birdies on the second nine to put himself firmly in the mix heading into Sunday.
“I was pretty frustrated with the start, but I would rather have a frustrating start and a good finish,” said Zalatoris. “It’s good momentum heading into tomorrow.”
Cameron Young, at 5-under overall, sits in fourth. Abraham Ancer is a shot further back and sits fifth. Seamus Power is 3-under and is sixth.
Out of that group – plus Zalatoris, Fitzpatrick, and Pereira – only Ancer and Power have won on the PGA Tour.
“This is a golf course,” said Ancer, “that really anything can happen.”
The rest of the top 10 is full of seasoned veterans, including Major Champions Stewart Cink, Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson, Gary Woodland, and 2017 PGA Champion Justin Thomas.
Simpson shot the round of the day, a 5-under 65.
There are questions, now, about who the champion will be. A proven winner? Someone breaking through? A front-runner? Or a come-from-behind miracle?
The answers will come Sunday at Southern Hills.