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Sunday, 14 October 2018
Pepperell - I'm thankful I built myself a nice lead

Eddie Pepperell produced a gutsy closing round of 72 to hold off the challenge of Alexander Björk and win his second European Tour title of the season at the Sky Sports British Masters.

The home favourite entered a rainy Sunday at Walton Heath Golf Club with a three-shot lead and while that was reduced to one at the turn, a stunning hole-out eagle on the tenth re-established his cushion.

Bogeys at the 15th and 16th set up a tense finish but Pepperell held his nerve to stay 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 presented by Rolex.

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 had to battle for par on the first and second and Björk took advantage of the par five to get within two of the leader.

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 very smart 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.

The home favourite had produced a moment of magic on that hole on day one when he made a stunning hole-in-one and he produced another special moment on the tenth on Sunday. 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 looked to be making a mess of the 14th after finding heather off the tee and being short of the green with his third but he rolled in a brilliant long putt from the fairway to stay three ahead, prompting a big, fist-pumping celebration.

More heather trouble was to come off the tee on the 15th and 16th, however, bringing back-to-back bogeys and the lead was down to one with two to play.

Both men parred the 17th but when Björk was wayward off the final tee, another par up the last handed Pepperell victory.

Herbert looked to be making a charge with birdies on 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 ten to make it seven for the season.

Smith made 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.

There were seven players at two under with just 21 finishing the week under par.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1PEPPERELL, EddieENG18-9
2BJÖRK, AlexanderSWE18-7
T3HERBERT, LucasAUS18-5
T3SMITH, JordanENG18-5
T5HORSFIELD, SamENG18-4
T5LEWIS, TomENG18-4

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