‘I want to stop being a p***k’: Eddie Pepperell sets avowed goal after taking lead at the halfway stage of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic
- Eddie Pepperell walked out of a tournament mid-round in Turkey in November
- Pepperell says his frustrations boiled over at the end of long run of tournaments
- The 29-year-old is targeting a return to the top 50 and a stint of US competitions
- Pepperell has a halfway lead on eight under par in Omega Dubai Desert Classic
Eddie Pepperell, the Englishman who walked out of a tournament mid-round in November because he had run out of golf balls, has a simple, avowed goal for the new season.
‘I want to stop being a p***k,’ he said. That event in Turkey was the headline act when it came to frustration spilling over into boorishness. ‘It came at the end of a long run of tournaments where week after week I was not enjoying playing,’ Pepperell, 29, told Sportsmail.
‘After two good years, things got away from me last season. I’d had a back injury and then, before you know it, I felt like I had moved from living on the trunk of a tree to an outer branch.’
Eddie Pepperell has vowed to stop ‘being a p****’ after flying start to Dubai Desert Classic
Pepperell walked out of a tournament in the middle of a round in Turkey in November
Even worse than Turkey for Pepperell was playing in his home event, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in September.
‘I had some friends who’d come to watch, and I played pathetically,’ he said. ‘It was sad turning up for the second round and simply not wanting to play. Then came Turkey. Now it’s time to get back to the straight and narrow.
‘I feel like I’ve put all that behind me, gone back to the things that worked for me in 2017 and 2018. I feel like I’m climbing back to the trunk, and I want to climb higher. Right now, I’m mid-flight.’
Pepperell was speaking after his finest round in some time: a 67 that has given him the halfway lead on eight under par in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
The 29-year-old is the leader at the halfway stage of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic
The last time Pepperell led at the halfway stage he went on to win the 2018 British Masters
The last time he had such a lead, he went on to the win the 2018 British Masters and move to the fringes of the world’s top 30.
Now ranked No 61, a huge weekend lies ahead. ‘I want to go from here and play in America for a while, but I need to get back into the top 50 to do that,’ he said.
‘A win here, or maybe even second place, would take care of that, so there is a lot at stake.’
Pepperell’s improved form is partly down to renewed confidence on the greens after watching Lee Westwood win in Abu Dhabi last week courtesy of using the claw putting grip.
Pepperell’s success at the British Masters saw him move to the fringes of the world’s top 30
‘No disrespect to Lee but I was watching him waiting for that yippy stroke, but it never came, and I was very impressed,’ he said. ‘In my hotel room on Sunday night I decided to give it a try and I’m glad I did. I’m pleasantly surprised it’s working so quickly.
‘It might not look elegant, but I feel comfortable and I haven’t missed a putt inside five feet. Last week in Abu Dhabi, I’d missed four by this stage. So far, so good.’
Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau is just a shot behind following a 67 of his own but the big move came from Tommy Fleetwood, who bounced back brilliantly from his opening 75 with a best-of-the-day 65 to be just four behind.
Westwood showed the value of a good night’s sleep to also improve on his opening 78 by 10 shots to make the halfway cut.
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