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Former Red Raider Mito Pereira Takes PGA Championship Lead Into Final Round

Perieira holds a three-stroke lead after shooting a one-under 69 on Saturday
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Mito Pereira is doing his best to keep things normal Saturday night. As normal as it possibly can be while he's leading the PGA Championship at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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Pereira shot a third-round 69 on Saturday to hold a three-shot lead over Matthew Fitzpatrick and Will Zalatoris entering Sunday. Pereira, 27, just got his tour card last year by virtue of winning three times on the Korn Ferry Tour, is in uncharted territory, and trying to remain as calm as possible.

"It's by far the biggest tournament that I've played, the biggest round of golf and tomorrow is going to be even bigger," Pereira said after the third round. "I'll just try to keep it simple, try to do the same things that I've been doing and try to not even look at the people around."

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Pereira made four bogeys over five holes between holes eight and 12, but consecutive birdies on 13 and 14 helped him close the day with a 69 after a tough birdie putt on 18.

"It was a really tough day - it was windy, cold, last pairing. So I thought I hit it pretty well, hit some bad shots but it's normal," he said.

"It's more just mental, you know. Obviously, that birdie really helped on 13, to get things going.

"I wasn't playing really bad and with those bogeys – one three-putt, one bad break – it wasn't like I was losing my confidence. I was still hitting the ball really well, so I think I'll just hold to that."

Why has Pereira been successful while others have not this weekend? John Gerber, PGA of America member and host of From the Rough Podcast says, "The Chilean has achieved a rare trifecta leading the tournament in 3 key categories. Total birdies, greens in regulation, and strokes gained putting. Relying on a hot putter Pereira carded his third straight round in the 60s. The last time a player that is ranked over 100 in the world held a three-shot lead going into a major championship was Jean van de Velde at the 1999 British Open."

Pereira will tee off on Sunday at 1:35 p.m. CT alongside second-place Matthew Fitzpatrick in the final pairing of the day.

You can follow Timm Hamm on Twitter at @IndyCarTim

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