When Mito Pereira drained a 28-footer for birdie on the 18th hole late Saturday at the PGA Championship it boosted his lead to three shots over Matt Fitzpatrick and Will Zalatoris, his two closest pursuers.

Three shots are significant. It’s not quite a magic number, but it is a significant number.

There are numerous cases of players coming back from two shots down to capture the Wanamaker Trophy. Collin Morikawa accomplished that feat just two years ago at Harding Park. Justin Thomas did the same in 2017 at Quail Hollow.

But three... Three shots are more difficult to overcome.

Over the last 20 years there have been 3 instances where a player came back from a deficit of three or more to win and it hasn’t happened since 2010; Martin Kaymer was four behind Nick Watney in 2010 at Whistling Straits and defeated Bubba Watson in a playoff, Padraig Harrington was three behind Ben Curtis in 2008 at Oakland Hills and Rich Beem was three behind Justin Leonard in 2002 at Hazeltine.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are 5 cases where the champion came from six or more strokes back to win, although none have happened recently. Here is a closer look at those PGA Championships:

1978: John Mahaffey at Oakmont
Mahaffey entered the final round seven shots behind Tom Watson, who began to falter early. Mahaffey shot a sensational final-round 66 to get into a sudden-death playoff with Watson and Jerry Pate. All three men parred the first playoff hole and Mahaffey drained a 12-footer for birdie on the second hole to win the title.

1959: Bob Rosburg at Minneapolis Golf Club
Rosburg entered the final round six shots behind Jerry Barber in the second year of stroke play for the PGA Championship. It was match play through 1957. In the final round Rosburg made five birdies in the first nine holes and ultimately shot 4-under 66 to win by one shot over Barber and Doug Sanders.

1977: Lanny Wadkins at Pebble Beach
Wadkins entered the final round six shots off the lead and in fourth place. Gene Littler was the leader. Wadkins was 27 years old at the time and shot 70, while Littler shot 76. The two men went into the first sudden-death playoff in the PGA Championship stroke-play era and Wadkins was the victor after only making par.

1989: Payne Stewart at Kemper Lakes
The late Payne Stewart was tied for 10th place heading into the final round, six shots behind Mike Reid. He was actually still trailing by five shots with three holes remaining in the championship but finished, birdie, birdie, par while Reid went bogey, double bogey, par in that same stretch. Stewart won by one shot over Reid, Andy Bean and Curtis Strange. It was his first of three major victories.

1995: Steve Elkington at Riviera
Elkington was six shots behind Ernie Els and shot an incredible 7-under 64 to get into a playoff with Colin Montgomerie, who shot 65. Els shot 72. In the sudden-death playoff on Riviera’s famed 18th hole, Elkington made birdie from 20 feet, Montgomerie missed from a shorter distance and the championship was over.

Note: The biggest final-round comeback in major championship history belongs to Paul Lawrie at the 1999 Open Championship at Carnoustie. The Scot came from 10 shots behind and beat Jean Van de Velde and Justin Leonard in a playoff.

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