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Friday, June 24, 2022

Record 6 Latin American starts off well at PGA Championship

Tulsa, Okla. ( Associated Press) — Joaquin Niemann spent his youth trying to follow in the footsteps of Chilean grown-up Mito Pereira, who didn’t quite take it easy as he went on to win prestigious amateur golf events in the U.S. and Scotland, and points between .

Neiman certainly did a good job following Pereira’s path into the opening rounds of the PGA Championship.

Two of the record six Latin American players on the field, Neiman and Pereira each shot a 2-under 70 each round at Southern Hills, leaving them just three shots behind leader Rory McIlroy in Friday’s second round.

“I remember when I was maybe 12, 13, and he was probably a few years older, and he would win everything in Chile,” Nieman recalled. “He would come to the States and play Junior World, and I think he won that too. For me and all my friends, like, we grew up playing together, seeing Mito was like, ‘Oh, there’s Mito. .’ He was impressive.”

Pereira was away from the game for some time before coming back and now he is playing better than before. He made four birdies during his round on Thursday, including three birdies in five holes in the back.

“It’s nice to see two Chilean flags on the first page,” Neiman said, “and a Mexican flag too.”

Nieman may not believe it, but Pereira admitted on Thursday that he always knew who was following him growing up.

“Yeah, I think it was mutual. We both kept feeding each other,” he said of Neiman. “Obviously he came here first. I became pro first, I got first Latin American, corn ferry (tourism), so it was like we were all trying to feed each other. And then when he got up here and just played awesome golf, you can see how close he is to getting here. ,

Latin American players have a rich history in professional golf, but few have participated in major championships. And only two, both from Argentina, have won: Roberto de Vicenzo by two shots over Jack Nicklaus at the 1967 British Open in Hoylec, and Angel Cabrera, who won the US Open in 2007 and the Masters two years later.

Yet the latest crop could soon become a force to be reckoned with at sport’s biggest events.

As soon as this weekend, in fact.

Mexico’s Abraham Anser, who made the cut in all four majors at the PGA last year and finished eighth, also got off to a strong start with 67 on Thursday. This dropped him in fourth place behind McIlroy, Will Zalatoris and Tom Hoge.

“I felt like I was playing really, really well, like round 5-under,” Anser said, “but I’d never ask for too much after that.” I know this is a tough golf course and it can quickly go the other way. ,

It did this for country’s Carlos Ortiz, who started with 79. But otherwise, all Latin Americans fared well.

Colombia’s Sebastian Munoz started with 74, the same as Tiger Woods, and Venezuela’s Jhontan Vegas scored 73, both ahead of PGA Tour Player of the Year Patrick Cantley and four-time major winner Brooks Koepka. .

“We’re basically a team,” Pereira said of the Latin American squad. “We come from another part of the world, so we come here and we just support each other. Try sharing housing sometimes. So we have a really great relationship.”

Anser has won the World Golf Championship event, is a three-time winner on the Tour of Vegas, and Ortiz and Muoz also have victories to their credit. Neiman may be the hottest of them all, winning the Genesis Invitational at the Riviera in February and making the cut at the Masters to go with her 2019 title at The Greenbrier.

“Certainly, golf is getting bigger in Latin America,” he said. “I think everyone in South America is on the same page. I think everybody, all the young players watching us play here on TV every week, I think it inspires a lot of kids.

“We didn’t have that day in Chile,” Niemann said. “We have never seen a Chilean professional playing in Chile. Obviously we have Camilo (Villegas), Johnny from Latin America, but now I think having players from across the continent in South America is really good for golf in our region.


More Associated Press Golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

World Nation News Desk
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