Mito Pereira played perfect golf for 71 holes and then lost $1.8 million on one bad swing at the PGA Championship

Mito Pereira played perfect golf for 71 holes and then lost $1.8 million on one bad swing at the PGA Championship
Mito Pereira walks off the 18th green at the 2022 PGA Championship.AP Photo/Matt York
  • Mito Pereira entered the final round of the PGA Championship with a three-stroke lead on the field.
  • After holding his lead for the whole day on Sunday, Pereira finally faltered on the final hole of the tournament.

As enthralling as Justin Thomas' win at the PGA Championship was this weekend, it was probably twice as heartbreaking for Mito Pereira.

Through three rounds, the Chilean golfer had built a three-stroke lead on the field. Without a PGA Tour win to his name yet, Pereira, playing his first full season on Tour, was on the cusp of claiming his first victory on one of the grandest stages his sport has to offer.

For the first 17 holes on Sunday, Pereira was able to hold. While he dropped strokes here and there, and even flirted with disaster on more than one occasion, he held on to the lead, sinking every putt he needed to stay atop the leaderboard.

When Pereira stepped into the 18th tee box on Sunday, he was sitting at -6, still leading the tournament. Justin Thomas was already in the clubhouse at five-under par. If Pereira could just par the final hole of the tournament, which had been playing as the most challenging on the course, he would win the PGA Championship. A bogey would at the very least secure him a spot in a playoff.

Pereira let loose a mighty swing off the tee, but from his follow through, it was immediately clear that disaster had struck. His wayward drive had wound up in a creek.


Suddenly, Pereira was in need of a special escape just to reach a playoff.

After a full day spent finding every shot he needed to hold his lead, things unraveled at No. 18. Pereira's approach to the green overshot its mark, and his chip back faded downhill and off the green once again.

Left with a must-make 22-footer to join the playoff, Pereira missed.

Justin Thomas would go on to defeat Will Zalatoris in the playoff, with Pereira finishing tied for third.

Had Pereira been able to win, he would have taken home $2.7 million in earnings, to go along with all the glory that comes with being a major champion. Instead, he won $870,000 — still a stellar payday by any measure, but more than $1.8 million less than what a dry ball in the fairway likely would have won him.


Making matters all the more devastating was just how close Pereira came to having an extra stroke of buffer room heading into the 18th hole on Sunday. On the green at No. 17, Pereira left his putt one rotation short of a birdie that would have given him a two-stroke lead on the field.

Despite the loss, Pereira was impressively gracious in defeat.

"On Monday I just wanted to make the cut," Pereira told CBS after his round. "On Sunday, I wanted to win. I really hope to take this and learn for the future."

Pereira, 27, will have plenty more opportunities to contend in the future. Thanks to his PGA Championship finish, Pereira vaulted from No. 100 in the world rankings all the way up to No. 49.