POTOMAC FALLS: In addition to battling a course that was reluctant to give up low scores Saturday at LIV Golf DC, Mito Pereira also had to battle allergy problems midway through his second round.
He overcame both issues — and now he’s 18 holes away from his first LIV Golf title.
The Torque GC member from Chile shot a 5-under 67 that included 10 birdies and five bogeys to take a one-stroke lead at 9 under going into Sunday’s final round at Trump National Golf Club, Washington, D.C.
His closest pursuer is first-round leader Harold Varner III, whose even-par 72 left him at 8 under. Henrik Stenson and Kevin Na are another shot back in a bunched leaderboard in which 20 pursuers are within six shots of Pereira’s lead.
Pereira hopes to become Torque’s first individual winner while his team seeks its second team title of the 2023 LIV Golf League season, having won the third event in Orlando. Torque leads the team leaderboard by three shots over Varner’s RangeGoats GC and Stinger GC, the winners two weeks ago in Tulsa.
Pereira said both the individual and team leaderboards will be top of mind on Sunday.
“The team aspect, it’s really cool to watch it out there,” Pereira said. “It’s nice to have that in the background and just hope we can take the win again.”
Pereira also hopes that his allergy problems will not impact his performance like they threatened to do Saturday.
“It was really, really bad. I just tried to keep myself together and tried to play good and just take the allergy how it is,” Pereira said.
Varner, who opened with an 8-under 64 on Friday, hopes to rebound from a second round that was not as productive as he had hoped but still leaves him in contention. He will need his putter to cooperate better, as he took 31 putts on Saturday, seven more than he needed in the first round.
“I played poorly, but it is what it is,” Varner said. “It’s golf. I just didn’t have it but after yesterday, I’m still in position. Just got to get back on the horse and have fun with it.”
Pereira and Varner will be in the final group on Sunday for the first time as LIV Golf members. Stenson returns to the lead group in the final round for the first time since winning last year at Bedminster.
“We’re at the races,” Stenson said, “and we’ll try and finish strong tomorrow.”
Here are the standings and counting scores for Saturday’s second round of the team competition at LIV Golf DC. The three best scores from each team count in every round for their total team score. The team with the lowest cumulative score after three rounds win the team title.
TORQUE GC (-18): Mito Pereira 67, Sebastián Muñoz 68, Joaquin Niemann 71 (Rd. 2 score: -10)
STINGER GC (-15): Louis Oosthuizen 67, Branden Grace 69, Dean Burmester 71 (Rd. 2 score: -9)
RANGEGOATS GC (-15): Bubba Watson 68, Talor Gooch 71, Harold Varner III 72 (Rd. 2 score: -5)
4ACES GC (-13): Patrick Reed 71, Peter Uihlein 71, Dustin Johnson 72 (Rd. 2 score: -5)
MAJESTICKS GC (-12): Henrik Stenson 67, Ian Poulter 69, Lee Westwood 73 (Rd. 2 score: -7)
FIREBALLS GC (-10): Carlos Ortiz 68, Eugenio Chacarra 69, Abraham Ancer 72 (Rd. 2 score: -7)
CRUSHERS GC (-10): Andy Ogletree 70, Bryson DeChambeau 70, Anirban Lahiri 71 (Rd. 2 score: -5)
HYFLYERS GC (-9): Brendan Steele 70, Cameron Tringale 71, James Piot 74 (Rd. 2 score: -1)
CLEEKS GC (-7): Richard Bland 70, Graeme McDowell 70, Martin Kaymer 74 (Rd. 2 score: -2)
IRON HEADS GC (-6): Kevin Na 69, Scott Vincent 75, Danny Lee 76 (Rd. 2 score: +4)
RIPPER GC (-4): Cameron Smith 70, Matt Jones 72, Marc Leishman 72 (Rd. 2 score: -2)
SMASH GC (+4): Brooks Koepka 69, *Kieran Vincent 74, Chase Koepka 75 (Rd. 2 score: +2) *Reserve