In a ranking of the top sports in Chile, golf doesn’t even crack the top five.
That makes it all the more remarkable that 27-year-old Chilean Mito Pereira, who led last week’s PGA Championship for 71 holes before suffering a devastating double-bogey to finish T3, decided to pick up a club at all.
On this week’s episode of Off Course with Claude Harmon, Pereira explained what it was that drew him to golf instead of more popular sports like soccer or baseball.
“My dad used to play,” Pereira began. “Just a weekend golfer, probably handicap 7. And I think my mom took me just one weekend, ‘Hey, let’s go watch dad at the course, at the club.’ I started obviously with plastic clubs, two or three years old. First tournament was six. First international tournament was the Junior World, in San Diego, was at eight. And I started actually to have really good results. I liked it.”
Pereira said that he would practice almost every day after school, despite needing to travel an hour each way to get to the course, and also despite the fact that in the winter, his after-school practice time was reduced to about 90 minuted due to darkness.
“I would get out of school at 3, get to the course at 4, it’s dark by 5:30,” he said.
Harmon then pressed Pereira on what exactly it was about golf that appealed to him, and Pereira delivered a thoughtful response.
“I think when I was a kid, I really liked the competition,” he said. “And then I really liked the different things that you could do on the course. I was always trying to hit draws, fades. Playing around, just playing golf. And then as I grew up, I realized that it was a really tough game. So I think now I like it, because you can never get enough of it. You can never get to perfection.”
For more from Pereira, including the embarrassing moment he had when he saw Tiger Woods in person for the first time, and why he decided to quit the game for two years as a teenager, check out the full interview below.