Twenty-seven-year-old Chilean Mito Pereira made a name for himself last week when he led the PGA Championship for 71 holes. Though a double-bogey on his final hole derailed his chance to become the first Chilean to win a major championship, it’s clear that Pereira’s talent has staying power.
Unsurprisingly, Pereira took up the game as a toddler with plastic clubs. He was competing locally by age six and internationally by age eight. Sounds like the story a lot of current Tour players could tell, right?
But unlike many elite players on Tour today, Pereira actually quit the game for two years as a teenager, and on this week’s episode of Off Course with Claude Harmon, he explained why.
“I played golf from three years old to 15. Just golf,” Pereira said. “And then I had a break of golf. I didn’t play for two years. I just got bored of it.”
“Got bored of playing good?” Harmon asked with a chuckle.
“No, just got bored,” Pereira smiled. “Because you know, I started parties at 15, girls. Friends in school that were just having a normal life. Every weekend I have to play golf. Just, enough of it.
“And I just did everything else like a normal person,” he continued. “I played soccer, I started dirt bike, motor bike, tennis. I used to play a lot of tennis when I was a kid, but I did everything. Just a normal high-school kid.”
Pereira ultimately returned to golf, obviously, but credits the break with helping him to build a social circle outside of the game that remains to this day.
For more from Pereira, including why he was so embarrassed the first time he saw Tiger Woods in person, and why golf appealed to him as a kid, check out the full interview below.