Mito Pereira rallies to win first Korn Ferry Tour title in Bogota
February 09, 2020
By Sean Wildhack, PGATOUR.COM
- February 09, 2020
- Pereira overcame a 4-shot deficit on Sunday to win his first Korn Ferry Tour title. (Kevin Prise/PGATOUR.COM)
BOGOTÁ, Colombia — After beginning the day four strokes off the lead, Mito Pereira carded a final-round, 7-under 64 to earn his first Korn Ferry Tour title at the Country Club de Bogotá Championship, finishing the week at 20-under 263. On his 72nd hole, the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica alum from Chile drained an eagle putt to clinch the two-stroke victory. Pereira defeated Ben Kohles by two strokes who finished second at 18-under 265.
“It feels amazing,” Pereira said after his round. “Finishing that way was absolutely amazing for me with all the people there and to do it here in Bogotá.”
After back-to-back pars to start the final round, Pereira recorded his first birdie at the par-4 third. He caught fire with an eagle on the par-4 fourth to reach 16-under for the tournament. The 24-year-old added birdies on Nos. 8 and 10 to reach 18-under for the week and held a two-stroke lead with eight holes left to play.
After a par on No. 11, Pereira made his lone bogey of the day on the par-3 12th. He immediately rebounded with a birdie on No. 13 to move back to 18-under.
“That was one of the biggest birdies the entire week,” Pereira said of No. 13. “I hit a perfect hybrid and had a perfect yardage in for a pitching wedge. I hit it really well to smaller area up there. I knew I had to make the putt and luckily, I did.”
As Pereira made his way down the closing stretch, Ben Kohles charged up the leaderboard with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 16 and 17. Kohles added a par on the par-5 18th to match Pereira at 18-under and take the clubhouse lead. Pereira had one more chance for the win on the final hole.
After a great tee shot on the 72nd hole, Pereira reached the 570-yard par-5 in two and had two putts from 20-feet to win the tournament. With ice in his veins, the Santiago, Chile native drained the eagle putt to clinch his first Korn Ferry Tour title.
“Obviously, a win is a win,” he said. “But being here with everyone speaking Spanish, I think a lot of people were rooting for me and obviously Camilo (Villegas). I think being from Latin America helped get the crowd behind me here.”
After losing his status on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2018, Pereira returned home to Chile. He suffered a broken collarbone after a dirt biking accident and had to return to the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica last season to find his game.
“In 2018, I think I missed eight cuts to finish the Korn Ferry Tour season,” he said. “I went back to Chile and broke my collarbone after losing my Korn Ferry Tour card.”
After recovering from the injury, Pereira returned to the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica for the 2019 season. That year, the Texas Tech University product made 14 cuts in 16 starts and added six top-10s. At the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament’s Final Stage last December, Pereira missed earning guaranteed starts by one stroke, finishing T41.
“I worked really hard in 2019,” he said. “I went back to the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica and finished in the top-10. At Q-School, I finished one place outside the top-40. I think it was better to finish 41st at Q-School. It was better to come out here and finish third and then win, instead of finishing in the top-40 and not having to play as well.”
Despite not knowing what Tour he would play in 2020, Pereira made the field at last week’s Panamá Championship. He made the most of his opportunity and finished the week T3. With the victory on Sunday, Pereira moved to second in The 25 and is in great position to earn his first PGA TOUR card.
“I didn’t know if I was going to play this year here (on the Korn Ferry Tour),” he said. “I got the opportunity to play in Panamá and I had to play well. Finishing third gave me a lot of confidence. I guess now that I’m a winner, I want to get to the PGA TOUR.”
Kohles finished the week in solo-second at 18-under 265. John Chin, who played in the final group on Sunday, finished third at 17-under 266. Patrick Fishburn and Colombia native Camilo Villegas finished T4 at 16-under 267.
* Sunday’s weather: Partly cloudy, isolated showers, high of 70, winds W 4-12 mph.
* This week’s purse was $700,000 with $126,000 going to Mito Pereira. Pereira also received 500 Korn Ferry Tour points.
* Pereira’s maiden victory comes in his 47th start on the Korn Ferry Tour.
* Pereira’s previous best finish on the Korn Ferry Tour was T3 which came at the 2020 Panamá Championship and the 2017 Nashville Golf Open Benefitting the Snedeker Foundation.
* Pereira joins Jared Wolfe and Davis Riley as first-time winners this season on the Korn Ferry Tour.
* Pereira’s 7-under 64 on Sunday matched Patrick Fishburn (T4, -16) and Andrew Novak (T9, -14) for the low round of the day.
* Ben Kohles (2nd, -18) earned his best finish on the Korn Ferry Tour since finishing T2 at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay in 2019.
* In 2012, Kohles won back-to-back titles in the first two starts of his Korn Ferry Tour career.
* Camilo Villegas (T4, -16), who had the support of the local gallery this week, carded a final round, 2-under 69 on Sunday.
* John VanDerLaan, who held the 54-hole lead, finished T6 at 15-under 268.
* The par-4 second (525 yards) played as the most difficult hole throughout the week with a scoring average of 4.237.
* The par-5 eighth (555 yards) played as the easiest during the week with a scoring average of 4.546.
* In 2019, the Fundadores Course at the Country Club de Bogotá ranked as the fourth hardest course on the Korn Ferry Tour.