PGA Tour

Pereira’s BMW win sends him to the PGA Tour

You don’t get a car for winning the BMW Charity Pro-Am you just get a steering wheel trophy. Mito Pereira won’t mind because his win at Thornblade sends him up to the PGA Tour(BMW Pro-Am photo)

The BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by Synnex has never had a back to back winner. There is a good reason for it.

Since the tournament began in 1992, under various names, most of the tournament champions have advanced to the PGA Tour at the end of the season.

This year the BMW Champion will not have to wait to see where he is ranked in The 25 at the end of the year. He knows it doesn’t matter.

Mito Pereira became the 12th golfer in the history of the Korn-Ferry Tour to earn what was once called a ‘battlefield promotion’ now called a ‘Three Victory Promotion’ by winning three tournaments in the same year.

“This is crazy,” Pereira said. “I didn’t think I could win 3-times on this tour. Right now I won 3-times in one year and I’m going to the PGA Tour,” he said.

Pereira knew he had a chance to advance to the PGA Tour with another win after his victory a week ago in Raleigh at the Rex Hospital Open.

Pereira started the final round trailing the leader by 3 shots, but caught up at the turn and took the lead with a birdie on number 11. (BMW photo)

The former Texas Tech golfer from Chile started his final round trailing Justin Lower by 3-shots.

Lower had shot rounds of 8-under par at Cliffs Valley, 8-under par at Thornblade and then in the third round carded a 7-under par playing Thornblade again on Saturday,

While other golfers tried to catch the leader it was Pereira who birdied his first two holes to cut the lead to just 1-shot and by the turn he and Lower were even.

“The birdies on one and two gave me some momentum,” said Pereira. “I was locked in, so focused I didn’t feel if I was playing good or not. I kept my mind in the present,” he said.

On the back nine Pereira pulled away from Lower with 3-straight birdies on 14, and the back to back par 5s at 15 and 16.

On the Korn-Ferry Tour if you are not making birdies you are losing ground and Lower made only 2-birdies to go with 2-bogeys and finished at even par 71.

While Pereira was building his lead he didn’t allow himself the opportunity to think about what was waiting for him after he signed his scorecard.

“I just was fighting with my mind, to stay with what you need to do. Get to 18, play the best you can and not think ahead and think you won, because anything can happen,” he said.

Pereira closed out the tournament at 27-under par after shooting a 7-under 64 in the final round for an amazing 258 total.

Lower finished second 4-shots back while Max McGreevy was third at 21-under par.

Tommy ‘Two-Gloves’ Gainey had the best showing among players with local connections. Gainey, from Darlington, shot a second round 11-under par 61 to move up to 4th place, but that was as high as he could go. He finished at 20-under par in 4th.

Pereira will have a week to celebrate before he can join the PGA Tour. The US Open will be played this week and the BMW winner could have his first PGA Tour start a week later at the Travelers Championship in Connecticut.

“By far this is the best thing I have done in my life. I can’t wait to get there (PGA Tour) and do the best I can,” said the BMW Champion,

The last 3-time winner to advance to the PGA Tour was South Carolina’s Wesley Bryan in 2016. Bryan went on to become the first South Carolina native to win the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head.

In 1996 when the Korn-Ferry Tour was called the Nike Tour the late Micheal Christie, from Greenville, won three tournament titles including the Nike Greater Greenville Classic at Verdae Greens.

He advanced to the PGA Tour the following year based on his standings as the second leading money winner behind Stewart Cink.

The 3-win promotion began the following year, in 1997, with another winner in Greenville.

Chris Smith won the predecessor of the current BMW tournament as one of the three wins he posted to advance to the PGA Tour.

BMW Charity Pro-Am scores

The High Handicap Celebrity Division of the Pro-Am was won by boxing star Canelo. Former MLB pitcher David Wells won the celebrity low handicap title. Doug Walker and Joel Williams won the high and low amateur handicap division titles.

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