Pepperell is the Master of all he Surveys at Walton Heath

By: | Mon 15 Oct 2018 | Comments


JUST two years ago England’s Eddie Pepperell was heading back to qualifying school after losing his playing privileges but today he is celebrating his second victory of a remarkable season in which he came within a whisker of securing a place on Europe’s Ryder Cup team. Pepperell shot a final round of 72 on a rainy day at Walton Heath to win the British Masters  by two shots from Alexander Bjork. He also leapt to seventh in the Race to Dubai.

The Englishman all Burt secured the title as early as the 10th hole when he holed his second for a spectacular and timely eagle two after his lead had been reduced to a single shot. It meant that he was able to enjoy the back nine and a comparatively comfortable stroll to victory.

Bogeys at the 15th and 16th led to a tense finish but Pepperell held his nerve to remain at nine under and beat Swede Björk by two shots. Australian Lucas Herbert and England's Jordan Smith were at five under, a shot clear of two more Englishmen in Sam Horsfield and Tom Lewis, and American Julian Suri. Tournament host Justin Rose rounded off his week with a 70 to finish at three under and secure a place in the top ten.

Just two years ago Pepperell had to make the trip to Qualifying School to regain his playing privileges after finishing 113th on the Race to Dubai Rankings.

He finished 41st last season and after claiming a maiden victory at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in February, this win will take him into the top ten and the top 40 in the Official World Golf Ranking. The win is Pepperell's sixth top ten in his last nine events and makes him the first wire-to-wire winner since Matt Wallace at the 2017 Open de Portugal at Morgado Golf Resort.

“It's brilliant,” he said. “I said yesterday I wouldn't know how it felt being in the lead at this event as opposed to another one but now that I've won it, it does feel special. “The crowds are great, I've had some great local support around a beautiful golf course - one I've played a lot as a junior and an amateur - so to come and win this event is really special.

“It was such a tough day with the conditions. I didn't swing it very well from the get-go and it was really hard then to find it. It was an absolute grind for four or five hours. It just shows how important it is to build a lead when things are going well for you. I'm delighted to go wire-to-wire, especially at this event, I'm over the moon.”

Pepperell struggled throughout much of the round. He had to battle for par on the first and second and Bjork took advantage of the par five to get within two.  The 28 year old put his tee-shot to 20 feet on the par three fifth and briefly got within one but Pepperell was inside him and made his own putt to move to ten under.

Pepperell needed a terrific par save from the sand on the sixth but when he three-putted from a long way out on the par three ninth, the lead was down to one. He produced a moment of magic on that hole on day one when he recoded a hole-in-one and there was another moment to remember at the 10th. From 122 yards out he holed his second for an eagle and was back into a three-shot lead.

Björk got up and down from the sand on the par five 11th to cut the lead back to two but a bogey on the 13th left Pepperell three ahead with five to play. The leader was in big trouble at the 14th after driving into the heather. He was still short of the green after three blows but holed a huge putt  from the fairway to stay three ahead. At that moment, he thought that he had won. However, he found more heather from the tee at the 15th and 16th holes, costing him two further dropped shots. He was now only one in front with two to play. Both players  parred the 17th but when Bjork was wayward off the final tee, another par up the last handed Pepperell victory.

Herbert birdied the second, fourth, fifth and sixth to turn in 32 but three bogeys on the back nine saw him come home in 37 as he secured a third consecutive top 10 to make it seven for the season. Smith had four bogeys and three birdies in a 73, while Horsfield carded a 69, Lewis took one more stroke and Suri signed off with a 74.

Just 21 players managed to finish the week under par on a tough and demanding golf course.

PGA TOUR

AUSTRALIAN golfer Marc Leishman put a frustrating run behind him when he shot a final round of 65 to win the CIMB Classic in Malaysia by five strokes. 34-year-old Leishman came close several times during the 2017-18 season without managing to claim victory, but he put that right in some style in only the second event of the new season.

It was his fourth PGA Tour success, earned him $1.26m and in the process he equalled Justin Thomas’ tournament record winning total of 262, 26 under par, set three years ago on the TPC Kuala Lumpur West course.

The outcome was never in doubt after Leishman started with four birdies in the first five holes, before holing another birdie putt at the ninth to reach the turn in 31. Two more birdies followed at the 10th and 16th, with a lone dropped shot coming at the 13th. Leishman finished the round and the tournament in style, however, with a birdie at the final hole.

First-round leader Bronson Burgoon, whose maiden victory surely can’t be too far away, shot a 68 to finish tied for second, along with Emiliano Grillo and Chesson Hadley.

 

 

Thomas finished tied for fifth place after ending the final day with an eight-under 64, along with Gary Woodland (71) and Louis Oosthuizen (69).

Shubhankar Sharma, one of three joint-leaders coming into this final round, faltered in the final round to finish tied for 10th after an even-par 72.

Leishman was delighted. "It's a huge win for me,” he said. "After having two wins last year and not winning yet so far this year I was pretty determined to change that and, thankfully, I was able to do it this week."


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