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By Keith Jackson at Walton Heath
Last Updated: 12/10/18 2:22pm
Eddie Pepperell attributed a sharp short-game to his impressive scoring as a three-under 69 swept him into a three-shot lead at the Sky Sports British Masters.
The 27-year-old insisted he had not been entirely comfortable with his swing over the first two days, but he was able to limit the damage to his card with some sublime chipping and resolute putting in difficult conditions.
Pepperell had shared the overnight lead following an entertaining 67 which included a spectacular hole-in-one at the ninth and another eagle two holes later – and he coped admirably with the blustery conditions at Walton Heath on Friday morning.
The charismatic Englishman started at the 10th and rolled in his first birdie putt of the day at 11 before adding another at 14, although he bogeyed the tough 15th for the second day running.
WATCH: Pepperell’s astonishing ace
See how Eddie Pepperell made an unusual hole-in-one during the first round at Walton Heath
He hit back soon afterwards as he matched his first-round birdie at the 18th to turn in 34, and he picked up another in style at the third when he chipped in from the run-off area at the back of the green.
Pepperell offset at bogey at seven with his fifth birdie of the round at the next, and he holed a confident six-foot putt to save par at the ninth to close on eight under par, three clear of the field as the later starters began to head out.
“It’s so windy, and I didn’t play very well for the first 12 holes and I was still three under par,” said Pepperell, who won his maiden European Tour title earlier this season with a one-stroke victory over Oliver Fisher at the Qatar Masters.
“But my putting and my short-game were fantastic, and then I actually felt like I hit it very well on the last six holes. I maybe could have been a couple better, but it was tough out there for sure and I’m obviously very happy with that score.
“The course set-up was good for the conditions, and the Tour have clearly done a good job there. They slowed the greens up, and I think they had to because they would have been unplayable with the greens as fast as they were yesterday. It’s a good three-club wind out there for sure.”
Pepperell vowed to “keep pushing” rather than attempt to protect his score over the weekend, and he is hoping a session on the range will assist him in being more comfortable with how he is swinging the club for the final 36 holes.
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“Frankly, I feel like I’m not hitting the ball that well, so I feel like there’s a lot more for me in terms of that department,” he added. “Clearly I’ve putted well and my short game has been good, and I’ve hung in there in tough conditions.
“I’m hoping to spend a little bit of time on the range, and I’m hoping this weekend for my swing to feel a little more comfortable, and then I can play some shots and take even more to the golf course because I’m pretty happy with where the rest of the game is at.
“I’m in a good spot and I’m going to keep pushing. There’s nothing else I can do.”