TULSA, Oklahoma (Reuters) – Chilean Mito Pereira said the pressure of the PGA Championship proved too much to overcome on Sunday, as nerves cost him a one-shot lead on the final hole at Southern Hills Country Club.
Pereira had birdied on the par-four 18 the day before and told reporters he believed he would win his maiden major title on the hole Sunday.
But he instead sent the ball into the water, ultimately settling for a double-bogey and finishing the day with a disastrous five-over 75, as eventual winner Justin Thomas of the United States advanced to a playoff against compatriot Will Zalatoris.
Pereira finished the tournament tied for third with American Cameron Young.
“I thought I was nervous the first day,” Pereira said. “Then I thought I was nervous the second day. Then I thought I was nervous on the third day but the fourth day was terrible. I mean, this morning was tough.
“I just played it through, and actually had a one-shot lead on 18 and that was pretty good and sad to hit it in the water. I mean, I wish I could do it again.”
The 27-year-old previously picked up three wins on the Korn Ferry Tour but has yet to clinch a PGA Tour title.
Three shots clear at the top of the leaderboard through the first three rounds, Pereira was the first Chilean to lead a major but his Sunday shakes showed early with three bogeys on the front nine.
He told reporters that he tried to get a handle on his nerves, but simply could not find his composure in his second major appearance in front of a raucous Tulsa crowd.
“You’re in such a stressful situation that, I mean, everything can change. Just got to learn how to do it better. Keep like training for it,” he said.
“(It) was a tough day.”
(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)