Eddie Pepperell enjoys three-shot lead at British Masters

English golfer would all but seal a first trip to the Masters if he wins at Walton Heath

England’s Eddie Pepperell  tees off on the 11th hole during the third round of the   British Masters at Walton Heath Golf Club  in Tadworth, England. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

England’s Eddie Pepperell tees off on the 11th hole during the third round of the British Masters at Walton Heath Golf Club in Tadworth, England. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

 

Eddie Pepperell will take a three-shot lead into the final day of the British Masters as he seeks the second European Tour title of his career – and with it a different Masters appearance next April.

Pepperell carded a third round of 71 at Walton Heath to finish nine under par, with fellow Englishman Jordan Smith, Sweden’s Alexander Bjork, American Julian Suri and France’s Julien Guerrier all six under.

A victory on Sunday would take Pepperell into the world’s top 35 and almost certainly secure a Masters debut in 2019. The top 50 at the end of the year are guaranteed a place in the first Major of the year at Augusta National in April.

The 27-year-old from Oxford began the day with a three-shot lead and was four clear when he holed from 14 feet for an eagle on the par-five 11th, with playing partners Smith and Matt Wallace remarkably also doing likewise.

Smith also birdied the 12th after Pepperell three-putted and another birdie on the 15th took Smith within two shots of the lead, only for him to immediately drop a shot on the next.

Pepperell was ranked outside the world’s top 500 as recently as May last year, but won his maiden European Tour title in Qatar in February and followed a runners-up finish in the Scottish Open with a tie for sixth in the British Open seven days later, carding a closing 67 at Carnoustie despite being hungover.

“I remember feeling really comfortable with the lead in Qatar and I felt comfortable out there today,” Pepperell said. “I didn’t see any shots that frightened me and it’s about time I kicked on and won another event.

“It would have been nice to have holed a few putts on the back nine and gave myself more of a lead, but I’m confident I can shoot three or four under on Sunday and make everyone else’s life more difficult.”

Asked about the prospect of winning a prestigious title on home soil, Pepperell added: “When you are leading any golf tournament it’s pretty special but I’m having a hard time distinguishing this one from any other because I’m so immersed in the event.

“But ask me that in 24 hours when hopefully I will have the trophy and I’ll be ecstatic.”

Ryder Cup star Tommy Fleetwood is seven shots off the pace after rebounding from a 77 on Friday with a 70, while team-mate and tournament host Justin Rose is another stroke adrift following a 69.

A top-two finish on Sunday would see Rose reach the top of the world rankings for the second time this season, the 38-year-old having spent two weeks as number one in September.

“That hasn’t actually been on my mind,” Rose said. “It’s going to be tough to get there as I’ve got a lot of points to defend, but I’ve just got to focus on playing well.

“I got there with it being a by-product of good play and I’m going to have to get back there the same way. You can’t force it.”

Defending champion Paul Dunne opened with back-to-back birdies but then dropped four shots in his next three holes in a rollercoaster round of two-over 74 that leaves the Greystones golfer on one over and in a share of 34th position.

Pádraig Harrington (71) and Shane Lowry (72) are a shot further back on two over.

THIRD-ROUND SCOREBOARD

(British and Irl unless stated, par 72):

207 Eddie Pepperell 67 69 71

210 Julian Suri (USA) 70 71 69, Alexander Bjork (Swe) 69 73 68, Jordan Smith 71 69 70, Julien Guerrier (Fra) 70 70 70

212 Matt Wallace 67 72 73, Andrea Pavan (Ita) 73 72 67

213 Lucas Bjerregaard (Den) 74 67 72, Adrien Saddier (Fra) 73 73 67, Trevor Immelman (Rsa) 69 73 71, Matthew Fitzpatrick 69 73 71

214 Steven Brown 69 73 72, Tom Lewis 70 73 71, Lucas Herbert (Aus) 72 75 67, Andrew Sullivan 69 72 73, Tommy Fleetwood 67 77 70, Jeunghun Wang (Kor) 69 75 70, Wade Ormsby (Aus) 72 71 71

215 Ross Fisher 69 72 74, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Esp) 72 72 71, Robert Karlsson (Swe) 69 73 73, Sam Horsfield 71 70 74, Justin Rose 74 72 69, Austin Connelly (Can) 73 73 69, Gavin Green (Mal) 69 78 68, Richard Sterne (Rsa) 71 74 70, Gregory Havret (Fra) 75 70 70

216 Marcus Kinhult (Swe) 71 74 71, Haotong Li (Chn) 73 74 69, Marcel Siem (Ger) 72 73 71, Clement Sordet (Fra) 69 77 70, Matthias Schwab (Aut) 70 74 72, Lee Slattery 70 74 72

217 Andrew Johnston 72 72 73, Joakim Lagergren (Swe) 68 78 71, Scott Jamieson 73 72 72, Chris Hanson 75 69 73, Paul Dunne 70 73 74, Edoardo Molinari (Ita) 74 72 71, Oliver Farr 73 73 71, Alexander Levy (Fra) 67 78 72

218 Ricardo Gouveia (Por) 76 70 72, Richie Ramsay 74 72 72, Marc Warren 74 73 71, Shane Lowry 75 71 72, Darren Fichardt (Rsa) 73 73 72, Pádraig Harrington 73 74 71

219 Robert Rock 72 74 73, David Lipsky (USA) 68 78 73, Zander Lombard (Rsa) 72 72 75, Carlos Pigem (Esp) 71 72 76, Aaron Rai 73 74 72

220 Mike Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 68 79 73, Dean Burmester (Rsa) 74 72 74, Romain Wattel (Fra) 73 73 74, Paul Waring 70 77 73, Matteo Manassero (Ita) 72 72 76, Mikko Korhonen (Fin) 70 74 76, James Morrison 72 71 77

221 Soren Kjeldsen (Den) 73 74 74, Francesco Molinari (Ita) 73 73 75, Thomas Aiken (Rsa) 75 72 74, Matthew Southgate 69 76 76, Pablo Larrazabal (Esp) 70 77 74

222 Brett Rumford (Aus) 71 75 76, David Drysdale 69 73 80, Stephen Gallacher 72 73 77, Gregory Bourdy (Fra) 74 73 75, Andrew Dodt (Aus) 73 73 76, Marcus Fraser (Aus) 72 74 76

223 Haydn Porteous (Rsa) 77 70 76, Richard McEvoy 68 77 78

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