There are undoubtedly more than a few people who’ve tuned into the 2022 PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club, looked at the leaderboard, and asked the same question: Who is Mito Pereira?
As with most professional golfers, Pereira learned the game at a young age. Pereira, whose given name is Guillermo Pereira Hinke, was born in March 1995 in Santiago, Chile, the same hometown as Joaquin Niemann. Hard to imagine that a country with only approximately 50 golf courses could produce two of the top players in the world, isn’t it?
Mito Pereira had a highly successful amateur career
Pereira made a name for himself early, placing second in the Boys 10-11 division at the prestigious Optimist International Junior Golf Championship in 2006. Two years later, he won the 12-13 division. Another two years later, he was the runner-up at the Junior Open Championship in Scotland, a tournament run by The R&A. Patrick Reed won this very same tournament in 2006, and Jordan Spieth was the runner-up in 2008. So, yeah, it’s a big deal.
Still an amateur at age 17, Pereira won a tournament on Chile’s professional tour, taking the title at the 2013 Abierto Internacional de Las Brisas de Chicureo. In 2014, he headed to the U.S. to take a golf scholarship at Texas Tech, where he played for one year. During that year, he reached as high as the No. 5 spot in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and decided to turn pro in 2015.
He was the top-ranked player on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica and won three times on the Korn Ferry Tour
Pereira joined the PGA Tour Latinoamerica for the 2016 season and was wildly successful, quickly becoming the youngest player ever to hold the tour’s No. 1 ranking. With a win, two runner-up finishes, and several other top-10s, Mito finished in the top five in the Order of Merit, earning full-time status for what’s now known as the Korn Ferry Tour.
He struggled a bit over the next few years, bouncing back and forth between the PGA Tour Latinoamerica and the Korn Ferry Tour, where he finally notched his first win in 2020 at the Country Club de Bogota Championship. In June 2021, he won the REX Hospital Open, which vaulted him into the top 200 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time.
Just one week later, he won again at the BMW Charity Pro-Am, a victory that bumped him up to No. 151 in the world. But that triumph earned him much more than some world ranking points.
Pereira earned instant status on the PGA Tour and finished tied for fourth at the Tokyo Olympics
With his win at the BMW, Mito Pereira became just the 12th player in the developmental tour’s history to earn instant status on the PGA Tour by winning three events in the span of a year and the first since 2016.
His first tournament as a PGA Tour member didn’t go like he’d hoped as he missed the cut at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, but he tied for 34th the following week at the John Deere Classic. Pereira earned his first top-5 finish the next week at the Barbasol Championship and then tied for sixth one week later at the 3M Open.
And one week after that, he made his home country proud with a fine showing at the Tokyo Olympics. Pereira was one of seven players to compete in the bronze-medal playoff, where he was eventually eliminated, earning a tie for fourth.
Seven weeks later, Pereira earned his highest PGA Tour finish to date, finishing in solo third at the Fortinet Championship, which vaulted him into the top 100 in the world rankings for the first time.
Imagine how many spots Mito Pereira could jump with a win at the PGA Championship.
Stats courtesy of PGATour.com