Bizarre battle for bronze: Former Tech golfer finishes fourth in rare shoot-off

Former Texas Tech men's golfers Mito Pereira and Hurly Long have earned the honor compete for...
Former Texas Tech men's golfers Mito Pereira and Hurly Long have earned the honor compete for their countries in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.(TTU Athletics)
Published: Aug. 1, 2021 at 4:25 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Unlike most golf tournaments, which focus solely on the winner, seven golfers from seven different nations found in an odd predicament Sunday at the Kasumigaseki Country Club. One of them was former Texas Tech golfer Mito Pereira, who represented his home nation Chile at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Along with veteran Rory McIlroy, who competed for Ireland, Paul Casey (Great Britain), Hikeki Matsuyama (Japan), Collin Morikawa (United States) Sebastian Munoz (Colombia), and CT Pan (Chinese Taipei) also found themselves unexpectedly playing for extra time in the Men’s Individual Stroke Play final.

The shoot-off was rotated on three different holes, and only the lowest scores allowed to advance. Casey and home-favorite Matsuyama were the first to exit, as both finished with a bogey on the first hole. Thirty minutes later on hole 11, Pereira had a chance to push forward for bronze before his putt circled around the top of the hole- a scene most golfers are familiar with- but not when there’s a medal at stake. Along with McIlroy and Munoz, the former Red Raider was soon eliminated.

On that same hole, Morikawa (Las Vegas, Nev.) appeared to join gold medalist and fellow-American Xander Schauffele on the podium as his second shot fell three feet away from the hole- which caused a loud gasp for those in attendance. After he and Pan both scored a birdie, the Taipei golfer was able to do the same on the next round, and that was enough for the bronze.

Pereira entered Sunday’s final in fifth position, having shot 11 under par. Had he earned bronze, it would’ve been Chile’s first overall medal since 2008. Schauffele’s win gives the United States its first gold medalist in the sport since St. Louis hosted the Games in 1904. Golf was reinstated to the Olympic program in 2016.

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