Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports
Pereira turned pro after he finished his freshman season at Texas Tech (2014-15) where he earned Big 12 All-Tournament Team honors after shooting 9-under for eighth place at the tournament which was also played at Southern Hills.. In his rookie season on the PGA Tour, he finished third at the Fortinet Championship in September for his best finish on Tour.
His flurry of birdies to complete the third round on Saturday gives him a three-shot lead over Matt Fitzpatrick and Will Zalatoris heading into the final round of the PGA Championship.
The 27-year-old Pereira was at 9-under for the tournament after an up-and-down round that began with two early birdies, contained four bogeys during a five-hole stretch making the turn, and ended with a brilliant birdie putt on the 18th.
Zalatoris, the second-round leader, followed rounds of 66-65 with a shaky 73 at Southern Hills that left him tied with Fitzpatrick, who played back side in 3 under Saturday to join Zalatoris at 6 under for the championship.
Bubba Watson, whose 63 on Friday tied the PGA record, was on the move again early Saturday. But he stumbled badly down the stretch, making three bogeys over his final four holes to finish seven shots off the lead.
Pereira is a rookie on the PGA Tour after he earned wins at the BMW Charity Pro-Am, REX Hospital Open and Country Club de Bogota Championship on the Korn Ferry last season to secure a Three-Victory Promotion to the PGA Tour. Pereira finished tied for fourth at the Olympics last summer for Chile after earning his place in a seven-player playoff for the bronze medal.
The final round of the PGA Championship is set for Sunday and is being televised on CBS.