Sometimes the loser is remembered more than the winner. Stewart Cink won the 2009 British Open at Turnberry, but the tournament went down in history because Tom Watson lost it when he had it in his hand to shatter any longevity record at 59 years old. With this PGA Championship, the second major of the season, something similar will happen. The encyclopedia will say that it was won by Justin Thomas, at the age of 29, his second Grand Slam title after another PGA, in 2017, and will add that he beat Will Zalatoris, 27, who was seeking not only his first major, but also his first title on the American circuit. And the statistics will speak (seven shots recovered by Thomas, never seen in a PGA), and there are those who will point out that it was also the first major in which Tiger Woods retired… And all that is true, yes, but memory He will always remember that this great, before Thomas won it or Zalatoris fought it, Mito Pereira lost it.
Guillermo Pereira is called Mito because of the final syllables of his diminutive, William. He is 27 years old and this course is a premiere on the American circuit. When she arrived at the Southern Hills field in Tulsa, Okla., on Monday, she dreamed of making the cut. But suddenly he found himself at the gates of glory. After three majestic rounds of 68, 64 and 69 strokes, he woke up on Sunday as the outstanding leader with a cushion of three strokes ahead. His personal glory was at stake, since his track record in the world elite was zero. And the glory of his country, Chile, was at stake, since a golfer from that nation has never won a big game. And so he sweated and suffered, seeing how his income shrank, but it was still enough, one hit, when he entered the 18th hole. A par earned him the title, the big one, eternity. He had been about to button her up at 17, but his putt He was one tab away from entering. Cruel. Even so he couldn’t expect what happened on 18. Gripped by pressure, as he would later admit, he drew a swing strange and orthopedic, unnatural, and his ball rolled into the water. The dip ended up leading to a double bogey that even left him out of the tiebreaker. a drama. Next to green, his compatriot and friend Joaquín Niemann could hardly avoid tears. Niemann cried and the whole of Chile cried.
The fairy tale of a golfer who reached the PGA as number 100 in the world has died, with just one year of training at Texas Tech University, two victories last year on the Korn Ferry Tour, the second American step, a 13th place this campaign as the best result (Valero Texas Open), and a fourth place in the last Tokyo Games. Guillermito has not even reached thirty tournaments played on the American circuit, and the ceiling of his career, and the only top ten, was a third place finisher a year ago in the Fortinet Championship. Nobody counted on him to make history in the PGA Championship (the second great in his career after the 2019 US Open) and nobody was closer.
Pereira commanded the rebellion of the rookies. At the top of the table on Sunday, the Chilean was accompanied by Matt Fitzpatrick, 27 years old, and Zalatoris and Cameron Young, both 25. All looking for their first big, which at the same time would be their first crown in the American circuit. That inexperience weighed tons. None took the reins of the return. All were up par on the day, with Mito Pereira (+5 on the day) leading the pack. From behind, stealthily, a player with stripes, Justin Thomas, one of the heavyweights of world golf, came up. His -3 lap earned him the tiebreaker with Zalatoris, both at -5, when Mito Pereira consummated the skid (-4 overall). The Chilean lived a day in the electric chair, in which it seemed as soon as he was sinking (bogeys in 7 and 8) as he snorted: great putt saved in 9, also complicated situations resolved in 10 and 11… Of course, when you skirt the edge, you run the risk of falling. Up and down, bogey in the 12, birdies in 13, bogey in the 14… Impossible a second of calm. Everything could calm down with that putt of the 17 that did not enter by a breath, and in the 18 the sinking and the drama arrived. Even so, she had the courage to go out and face the cameras: “The tension has led me to make a bad move. There is nothing else to learn. You have to go out with your head up and keep fighting. We Latinos are not many and we have to be proud.”
All around him, Zalatoris, Young, and Fitzpatrick were moving as far apart as they came closer. Thomas, more scarred, smelled blood and hit the throttle in a superb second nine holes in which he swelled with scoring opportunities. birdies. He was where he had to be when Mito Pereira’s arm shrank and Chile’s soul shrank. In the three playoff holes (13, 17 and 18), Thomas signed birdies, birdies and par to settle a big one that he was crowned the winner, but that will be remembered by the loser.
Adri Arnaus finished the tournament as the best Spaniard (+3 on the day and in total), ranked 30th, ahead of Jon Rahm, 48th, who saved two strokes on the day to finish with +6. Tiger Woods retired at the end of the third round (+12) due to his physical problems. It is the first time that the Tiger has to abandon a great in his entire imperial career.
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