The 2022 PGA Championship was one of the most exciting final rounds at a major we’ve seen in a long time. Justin Thomas, looking for his second major championship, roared up the leader board with 3 birdies on the closing nine holes to shoot a brilliant 67, tying Will Zalatoris at 5 under par to force a 3-hole playoff. The first playoff hole was the par 5 thirteenth, and after Zalatoris narrowly missed an eagle putt, Thomas calmly knocked in a six-footer for birdie to stay even. The second was the 302 yard seventeenth, and Thomas drove the green, making another birdie to take a one-shot lead going to final hole. With a beautiful tee shot and solid approach, he two-putted for par and the Wanamaker trophy as Zalatoris’ birdie effort failed to fall. With 5 birdies on the final 12 holes of a grueling test at Southern Hills, Justin Thomas earned his second major championship in classic style. And while Will Zalatoris came up just short, he maintained his composure and executed magnificently under stifling pressure down the stretch—so you can expect this 25-year-old to be a force at major championships for many years to come.
Another big story to emerge from the 2022 PGA Championship is Mito Pereira, the talented young South American player who led the championship through the first 3 rounds. A costly double bogie on the final hole denied him a chance to win, but the ball striking and putting stroke he demonstrated throughout the week opened everyone’s eyes—and you can be sure he’ll be lifting a championship trophy in the not very distant future.
Justin’s victory at the PGA Championship comes on the heels of a solid performance at the Masters, where he finished in a tie for 8th. He has not missed a cut in any of the 13 events he’s played this season, while recording 8 Top-10 finishes. While everyone’s attention was drawn to the fabulous year Scottie Scheffler’s had, capped off by his win at The Masters, Thomas was quietly putting together one heck of a year as well—and then he brought out the megaphone at Southern Hills. With 15 wins including two major championships, Thomas is headed for the World Golf Hall of Fame—the only question is how far he can climb in the record books toward the all-time greats of the game. He is certainly poised for a monster year, particularly with his powerful showing at the first two majors. There is an abundance of young talent currently on tour who will stand in his way, so Thomas will need to maintain the Tiger-like drive and focus he displayed at the PGA Championship to muscle them aside. Justin only just turned 29, and the book won’t be closing any time soon—but his path for posting career numbers to rival Tiger and Jack will not get any easier. He delivered a powerful message to the young guns on Tour though—and it will be a lot of fun to see how they take it.
Will Zalatoris has not recorded a win on the PGA Tour yet, but it won’t be long—and once the dam breaks, watch out for the flood. Just a few months beyond his 25th birthday, this Dallas Texas native can flat out play. After making the cut in all 16 events he entered on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2020, with 10 Top-10’s including a win, Will earned his PGA Tour card and recorded a T6 in his first event—the 2020 U.S. Open played at Winged Foot in the Fall. In his first season on tour, Zalatoris made the cut in 21 of the events he played, including 8 Top-10’s. The big eye opener is his performance in major championships, where he has recoded 4 Top-10’s in the 9 majors he has played. Will has always been long off the tee, and one of the best ball strikers you’ll ever see (currently 14th in driving distance and 5th in greens in regulation), but the putter has always held him back (in 2020 he ranked 170th on tour in putting)—so he went to work on the practice green where the effort paid immediate dividends as he rolled his ball beautifully at Southern Hills. If Will’s putting continues to come around with the game he plays tee-to-green, it will be an explosive combination, and it should come as no surprised if he blows away the U.S Open field at The Country Club in June.
Virtually unknown in the U.S. prior to bursting onto the scene at Southern Hills, Pereira’s outstanding play came as no surprise to golf fans in his native Chile. After winning multiple junior titles, including a victory on the Chilean Professional Tour in 2013 as an Amateur, Mito climbed to number 5 in the official World Amateur Golf Rankings in 2015 at twenty years old. After some time on the Latinoamerica Tour, Pereira joined the Korn Ferry Tour in 2021, and recorded 9 Top-10’s, including 3 wins, earning his Tour card for the 2022 season. Thus far Mito has made the cut in 14 of the 19 events he has played, but showed signs that his game was heating up prior to the PGA with a T13 at the Valero Texas Open and a T17 at the Byron Nelson, where he opened with a 64 in the first round. Pareira currently ranks 4th on the PGA Tour in greens in regulation, but 143rd in putting—a pretty clear indicator of why he hadn’t had more success coming into the PGA. He certainly putted well at Southern Hills, particularly under pressure. With his ball striking ability and the experience gained by contending at a major championship on Sunday, look for Mito to begin appearing among the leaders at PGA events on a regular basis (along with his countryman, Joaquin Niemann, who is due to brake out at a major championship in the near future).