Pepperell looking forward to defending his title and some ‘proper meat and veg’
The English player is happy to be back home from the PGA Tour for the British Masters at Hillside
Defending champion Eddie Pepperell before the start of the British Masters at Hillside golf club in Southport, England. Photograph: Getty Images
Eddie Pepperell will defend his British Masters title on a diet of “proper meat and veg” after the end of his first sustained spell on the PGA Tour.
Pepperell finished third in the prestigious Players Championship at Sawgrass, and also made the cut on his Masters debut at Augusta National, but is happy to be back home for his first European Tour title defence at Hillside.
“It was a good experience to be out there, but I was more than ready to get home. My body was a bit beaten up from the travel. ” said the world number 37, who missed out on trying to retain his Qatar Masters title in March as he contested the Arnold Palmer Invitational instead.
“The one thing I realised when I spend a lot of time over there is how much I love Europe, all the places we travel to. Listen, the events were brilliant, and I really enjoyed testing myself in that environment on those courses.
“I found it challenging, and that was nice. I felt like I was ready for that at this point in my career. So there’s certain aspects of it that I really loved, and I felt were valuable for my game.
“But it was just nice to come home and eat proper veg and proper meat, and just the things that we have over here that maybe we don’t have over there.
“I’m looking forward to the week, and I’ve a good draw playing with Tommy [Fleetwood, the tournament host] and Stephen Gallacher. I’m curious to see how I feel tomorrow but I’m expecting to feel quite relaxed.”
Pepperell, who won the British Masters at Walton Heath last year with the aid of a spectacular hole-in-one during the first round, feels his game is in better shape now than it was in October.
“It feels pretty close in practice,” Pepperell added. “It certainly feels closer than it did on the Wednesday of the British Masters last year. That was terrible that day.
“The way things can change I never like to feel too confident on a Wednesday because it doesn’t last. I know there’s a bit of weakness at the moment in there somewhere.
“But I feel like around this course with the conditions, I can skirt my way around that and manage to shoot four good scores. “This week I’m quietly confident, I guess you could say, but I don’t feel like I’ve played well at all this year. I haven’t swung the club as well as I have last year and the year before that.
“So to have done what I’ve been able to do so far over the span of a year, I’ve made the most of it, and that’s a positive.”
Purse: €3.5 million (€440,000 to the winner)
Where: Hillside Golf Club, Southport
The course: A classic links – 6,953 yards Par 72 – Hillside, next-door neighbour of Royal Birkdale, comprises of fine dune land but with indigenous pine trees also part of its aesthetic. Fred Hawtree’s imprint can be found in a challenging design, one which Greg Norman observed in an unsolicited letter to the club as having “the best” back nine in British golf.
Defending champion: Eddie Pepperell was a two-shot winner over Alexander Bjork when it was played at Walton Heath last season.
Irish in the field: Paul Dunne, Gavin Moynihan and Michael Hoey – all with good records on links courses – are the three Irish players teeing up.
Betting: Tommy Fleetwood, the tournament host, is also the favourite with a 15/2 market value ahead of his fellow -Englishman Tyrrell Hatton, who is a 16/1 shot, and holder Pepperell at 18/1. Ryan Fox is lightly raced of late but has a good links pedigree and is worth a look at 35/1. A real outsider worth an each-way look? You could do worse than the 300/1 about Gavin Moynihan.
On TV: Sky Sports from 10.30am