July 21, 2024

Mito Pereira Leads After Two Rounds in Vegas

 Mito Pereira Leads After Two Rounds in Vegas

Spectators lounge at the 2019 Shriners Children’s Open. Photo by The Golf Spectator

Chile’s Mito Pereira holds a 1-shot, 36-hole lead over Robbie Shelton at the Shriners Children’s Open in Las Vegas after carding a second-round 63 at TPC Summerlin.

The last time the 27-year-old held a post-round lead was after the third round of the PGA Championship in May at Southern Hills. That 3-stroke lead didn’t hold up for Pereira, as he missed out on a playoff by one shot that ended with Justin Thomas outlasting Will Zalatoris to claim his second major championship.

“It’s way over there in the past,” Pereira said when asked about the major that slipped through his fingers in the 18th hole, where needing only par to claim the championship, he made double bogey to miss out on the playoff.

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Pereira has missed the cut in both majors since, and has failed to see the weekend in four of his last six individual events overall. Now ranked 49th in the world by the OWGR, Pereira was a qualifier for the International Team in the Presidents Cup. He secured only a half-point in the competition, going 0-2-1 overall as the U.S. team won 17.5-12.5 for its ninth consecutive victory.

But in the desert this week so far, he’s had the magic he conjured on the first three days at Southern Hills. Pereira’s nine birdies in round two are a career high for any round, and his 130 strokes (-12_ through two rounds is likewise a career low.

Scores are low across the board at TPC Summerlin so far, with 77 players at 4-under or better through Friday.

One stroke behind Shelton is a trio of players tied for third – Maverick McNealy, and Pereira’s Presidents Cup teammates Tom Kim and Si Woo Kim. In all, 10 of this year’s Presidents Cup made the cut this week, including eight at T17 or better after two rounds. The 26-year-old McNealy is seeking his first PGA Tour win. Si Woo has won three times on the PGA Tour, and 20-year-old Tom Kim broke through in August at the Wyndham Championship.

First-round leader Tom Hoge who fired a 63 of his own on Thursday, fell in to a tie for 17th after a second-round 72.

Aside from his eventual T3 at the PGA Championship. Pereira’s previous best finish on the PGA Tour was a solo third at the 2021 Fortinet Championship.

But if past is any indication, Pereira has a decent chance of holding on to get his first win. Nine times since the Shriners became a 72-hole event in 2004, the leader or co-leader has held on for the victory.

Be sure to check back with The Golf Spectator for more PGA Tour news.