Pereira takes 54-hole lead at El Bosque Mexico Championship by INNOVA
February 29, 2020
By Sean Wildhack, PGATOUR.COM
- February 29, 2020
Mito Pereira interview after Round 3 of El Bosque
LEON, GTO, Mexico — A month removed from his first Korn Ferry Tour title, Mito Pereira holds the 54-hole lead at the El Bosque Mexico Championship by INNOVA at 14-under 202. Sangmoon Bae sits two strokes off the lead at 12-under 204.
After beginning the third round one stroke off the lead, Pereira took advantage of the par-5 first and opened with a birdie. After Bae made bogey on No. 1, Pereira found himself atop the leaderboard. He added a birdie on No. 6 to reach 14-under for the week but dropped a shot at the difficult par-4 ninth.
On the par-5 10th, the 24-year-old carded his third birdie of the day to get back to 14-under for the week. After pars on Nos. 11-14, Pereira made his second bogey of the round on No. 15 and fell back to 13-under into a tie with Bae. The Texas Tech University product immediately bounced back with a birdie on No. 16 to regain the lead. He closed his round with par on Nos. 17 and 18 to earn a two-stroke lead heading into Sunday’s final round.
“I played great golf again,” Pereira said. “I hit some great shots and just missed a couple of putts. Overall, it was a good day for me and I’m confident going into tomorrow.”
After missing earning guaranteed starts at the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament’s Final Stage last December, Pereira was unsure where he would be playing this season. Earlier this year, he earned a spot in the field at the Panamá Championship and finished T3. A week later, he earned his first Korn Ferry Tour title at the Country Club de Bogotá Championship.
“That week (in Bogotá) made things a little more stress-free,” he said. “Obviously, you want to win every week. When I won a couple of weeks ago, it allowed me to be a little more relaxed.”
Despite the uncertain start to the year, Pereira is now on the verge of earning his first PGA TOUR card. For this first time in his career, he holds the 54-hole lead heading into the final round.
“Ideally, you just go play your game,” he said. “It’s a little bit different being in the last group. In Bogotá, I was in the second-to-last group, so the crowd wasn’t with me. But, if you keep your same mindset, it’s just another day of golf.”
Bae got off to a slow start on Saturday with a bogey at the par-5 first. Despite a birdie on No. 2, he struggled to find his rhythm on the opening nine. He recorded back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 6 and 7 to fall to 11-under. He recovered with birdies on the par-5 eighth and par-5 10th to get back to 13-under for the week.
After making par on Nos. 11-17, Bae closed his round with a bogey at the par-5 18th to finish with a 1-over 73. Yesterday, Bae set the 18-hole tournament record with a second-round 10-under 62.
“It was a huge difference between yesterday and today,” Bae said. “I didn’t feel that much pressure, I just didn’t play well. I missed a lot of putts and my iron shots were a little off.”
Despite the 1-over 73, Bae remained optimistic after his round.
“I’m really looking forward to playing tomorrow,” he said. “I’ll play my golf and focus on each and every shot. I think I’ll be fine tomorrow and will try and play aggressive.”
The 33-year-old has spent most of his career on the PGA TOUR and has two TOUR victories in 155 starts. In 2018, he earned his first Korn Ferry Tour title at the Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft Nabisco.
Paul Barjon sits alone in third after a 7-under 65 on Saturday. The 27-year-old tallied three birdies against one bogey on his opening nine. After making the turn, Barjon ascended the leaderboard with birdies on Nos. 10-12. He closed with birdies on Nos. 16 and 18 to reach 11-under for the week.
“I just started to hit the ball a little closer to the pin,” Barjon said. “I made a few putts that I didn’t make the first two days.”
Barjon is in search of his first Korn Ferry Tour title but is no stranger to the winner’s circle. Last season on the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada, he made 12 cuts in 12 starts and added two victories en route to winning the Order of Merit and Player of the Year honors.
“I’ve played a lot of Sundays which is definitely going to help,” he said. “But it’s new for me, I’ve never been in contention on the Korn Ferry Tour. I’ll embrace it and it’ll be cool to have a shot. The wins I had last year are going to help for sure.”
Final-round tee times will run from 7:10 a.m. – 1:10 p.m. CST.