Life

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Life -

will let you know what he’s think­ing. Whether taking on life’s amuse­ments and chal­lenges on his provoca­tive Twit­ter ac­count or post­ing al­ter­nately funny and brood­ing items to his blog, the 27-year-old pro from Eng­land chron­i­cles the roller coaster of a ca­reer that ex­pe­ri­enced an uptick in Fe­bru­ary with his rst Euro­pean Tour vic­tory. ▶ “I didn’t think win­ning a tour­na­ment would give me as much sat­is­fac­tion as it has,” he wrote af­ter the Qatar Masters. “It’s made me re­alise my ap­a­thy and lack of in­ter­est is mostly a de­cep­tion I’ve just played on my­self.” But, he added ,“If I ever get above my sta­tion, my sis­ter will put me right. She has a knack for four-let­ter curses and pin­point truth-telling.” ▶ Pep­perell has en­dured plenty of hum­bling mo­ments, in­clud­ing the time his credit card was re­jected the morn­ing he won a Chal­lenge Tour event in 2012. Now a mem­ber of the Euro­pean Tour’s Tour­na­ment Com­mit­tee, he can­didly ad­dressed his life and self-doubts in two sit-downs with Golf Di­gest.

tell us about the dream you had of trying to buy a car but get­ting a sur­prise in­stead. I did have a dream about a tiger, but any oth­ers I’ve had, I’m not shar­ing. (Laughs.) The tiger dream was weird, though. I dreamt that I bought a BMW 7 Series in China. It was £100 000, and I ar­ranged to have it shipped home. But they de­liv­ered a baby tiger in­stead. I have no idea what that means. But in the dream, I was fum­ing. ● ● ● what makes you laugh? Some­times Twit­ter. ● ● ● you get closer to the edge than most golfers

on there. I prob­a­bly go over that edge some­times. I don’t care if peo­ple give me abuse because they don’t agree with my opin­ion on some­thing. Get over it.That’s just life. So as long as I don’t cross cer­tain bound­aries – which I never get into – the rest is just a joke. And Twit­ter is that side of me.

It would be eas­ier for me not to get in­volved on so­cial me­dia. I ac­tu­ally delete most of my tweets (@Pep­perel­lEd­die) be­fore I send them. I get that I’m prob­a­bly not do­ing my­self many favours com­mer­cially. (In a spat with veteran tour pro Gary Evans, Pep­perell tweeted, The beauty of hav­ing no spon­sors is that you can ac­tu­ally say what you think.) But if some­one is giv­ing me some crap, I’ll have a bit of fun. Some­times that comes off, some­times it doesn’t. ● ● ● we get more thoughts on your blog (ed­diepep­perell .word­press.com). My blog has al­ways been a bit in­ter­mit­tent. I tend to write only when I want to or feel like I have some­thing to say. I write mostly when I’m strug­gling or play­ing badly, or when I read more. If things are go­ing okay, I’m not think­ing about stuff as much. I’d hate to have to write to dead­lines. ● ● ● this af­ter not read­ing your first book un­til you were 19? I was on hol­i­day in Cyprus with my girl­friend. It was Lawrence Dal­laglio’s au­to­bi­og­ra­phy (for­mer Eng­land rugby cap­tain). I found it fas­ci­nat­ing.And some­thing clicked in my mind af­ter that. I was off and run­ning. ● ● ● what pisses you off? Noth­ing, re­ally. I al­ways start from the as­sump­tion that we are all im­per­fect. So I’m never sur­prised – or not of­ten. I am sur­prised when I see some­one do some­thing re­ally good. I never ex­pect that. I al­ways as­sume that we’re all a bit shitty. ● ● ●

you’re a cynic. I am.Which is not to say I’m pes­simistic about ev­ery­thing or want the world to come crum­bling down. But I do think too many peo­ple ex­pect per­fec­tion these days.And that isn’t re­al­is­tic. ● ● ● only a cou­ple of years ago your ca­reer was at a low ebb. you lost your tour card un­der trau­matic cir­cum­stances. run me through that

again. In 2016, I came to the fi­nal event of the sea­son, the Por­tu­gal Masters, right on the bub­ble for keep­ing my card. It would have been a lot less stress­ful had I shot 76 the first day and 64 the sec­ond. But I did it the other way and was lead­ing or one shot back af­ter 18 holes. But to fol­low that up with a 76 that in­cluded a dou­ble bo­gey on the last, where I drove out-of-bounds and missed the cut, was dis­as­trous. I say that because it was tough to hit O B on that hole. It was a ter­ri­ble, ter­ri­ble shot. It was worse than that shot Jor­dan Spi­eth hit on the 13th hole at Birk­dale last year in the Open.This was Jor­dan with­out a right arm. I haven’t cried many times in my ca­reer, but when I got back to my room, I broke down. It was a sick­en­ing mo­ment for me, my fam­ily and any­one who re­ally cares about me. ● ● ● can you re­call look­ing up and see­ing where the ball was headed? Oh, yes. But the worst mo­ment was the feel­ing at the top of my swing. I was lit­er­ally fright­ened. I knew I was ei­ther go­ing to flat hook it or block it. I chose to block it. I was in a bad way with my swing then, and it be­came men­tal. So I was back at qual­i­fy­ing school. I played there pre­dom­i­nantly with my 3-wood and got through. ● ● ● was go­ing there a big blow to the ego? No. I don’t have an ego. ● ● ● oh, come on. ev­ery­one

does. No, I don’t think I do. I know a lot of peo­ple would love to do what I do for a liv­ing. But that works both ways. I’m sure there are some very suc­cess­ful peo­ple here at Fril­ford Heath Golf Club who I would love to em­u­late. there are quite a few bmws in the car park. There you go.That says it all. Or maybe it’s just that the fi­nance deals are good these days. (Smiles.) Lis­ten, Louis Oosthuizen lost his card a few years into his ca­reer. Look what he has gone on to do. So peo­ple lose their way, lose their cards and come back.

I’ve never had a Plan B. It’s al­ways been about Plan A. So I don’t re­ally know how to ad­vise young peo­ple. Do I tell them to do what I’ve done, which is fairly unique? Or do I tell them to do what most peo­ple have done? In my mind, there is an in­her­ent fear of fail­ure. So there has only been one way with my Plan A: ex­e­cute it. If my ca­reer ended now for what­ever rea­son, I’d be sad, but I feel like I’ve learned enough through play­ing for 20 years and pro­fes­sion­ally for six that I could go and do some­thing else. ● ● ● you could be an af­ter­dinner speaker. I’m not sure about that. I’d need a few jokes.As I’ve got older, I’ve re­alised that the fu­ture is never as bleak as you think it might be. But when you’re young, you don’t think like that. I was for­tu­nate in many ways. I have a great fam­ily. My dad never pushed me. I see some kids I grew up with who never made it but were plenty good enough. I have to think that has some­thing to do with their fam­ily in­flu­ences. ● ● ● one of your low points hap­pened be­fore you won on the chal­lenge tour. When I went to pay my ho­tel bill on the morn­ing of the fi­nal round, my credit card was re­jected. I didn’t have enough funds, so my mum came to the res­cue. Ac­tu­ally, my mate Laurie Can­ter paid, then my mum paid him back. ● ● ● the woman in your life (jen Rhodes) has had a big in­flu­ence on you, hasn’t she? (pep­perell once deleted his twit­ter ac­count to im­prove their re­la­tion­ship, say­ing he was spend­ing time on so­cial me­dia “nar­cis­sis­ti­cally.”) you’ve had a long re­la­tion­ship for one so young. Yeah, that’s not nor­mal, is it? (Laughs.) We’ve been to­gether since we were 16, so over 10 years. She’s great.We’re very dif­fer­ent. She’s in­tel­li­gent. She stud­ied law. She has a master’s. And now she’s train­ing to be a health coach. I see that as a great op­por­tu­nity for her. As a so­ci­ety, we have become way too in­ter­ested in cur­ing peo­ple rather than prevent­ing the ac­tual ill­ness. ● ● ● has any­thing changed for you since win­ning in qatar? The big thing I learned was that I was able to hit the ball – by and large, at least – as well in the fi­nal round as I had over the first

three days. A ny­one who has played golf un­der pres­sure will know that the ten­dency is to move faster, es­pe­cially the big mus­cles. But that week was dif­fer­ent. I’d just started with a new in­struc­tor, Simon Shanks – which is a great name for a golf coach – and his as­sis­tant is Matt Hack­ing, which is even more in­cred­i­ble.

I’ve al­ways thought of Zach John­son as an ex­am­ple of how to win tour­na­ments. I mean, why has he won more times than, say, Paul Casey? He’s even won more of­ten than Hen­rik Sten­son on the PGA Tour. There’s no way that Zach is a bet­ter ball-striker – or a bet­ter golfer – than ei­ther of those guys, but when it comes to the crunch, Zach can hit the right shots when he ab­so­lutely has to. That shows how it all comes down to swing feel­ings. ● ● ● so you get your men­tal re­as­sur­ance from a phys­i­cal feel­ing? Ex­actly. And I al­ways thought that would be the case. I have never ques­tioned my men­tal ca­pa­bil­ity to win.Why should I? I won as a kid. I won as an am­a­teur. I won on the Chal­lenge Tour. I’m not all of a sud­den go­ing to be afraid to win on the Euro­pean Tour. That makes no sense to me. Which is not to say that it’s not harder to win on the Euro­pean Tour. It re­quires more types of shots and a bet­ter qual­ity of shot. I could al­ways achieve that level when not un­der pres­sure. But I found it more dif­fi­cult when I was un­der pres­sure. ● ● ● i was par­tic­u­larly im­pressed with that drive you necked out there on the 72nd hole. (Laughs.) I nearly missed it. ● ● ● your tem­per­a­ment is clearly more artis­tic than sci­en­tific, and that makes the shots you hit a lit­tle dif­fer­ent from the norm. fair? When it comes to hit­ting the same shot over and over, I’ve ei­ther got too much tal­ent or a lack of tal­ent. What­ever, I can’t do that. I wish I could go to a course in easy con­di­tions and shoot 25 un­der par. But I’m not good enough to do so. I hap­pily ad­mit that. I’ve not got the driv­ing game or the putting game. But I have got the abil­ity to hit a va­ri­ety of shots. I’m creative with shots. I play bet­ter in the wind than most other guys on tour. I can adapt to dif­fer­ent con­di­tions. That is a skill, and that’s my skill. We’re all dif­fer­ent. That’s im­por­tant to re­alise, I think. I just have to hope that the mod­ern game en­com­passes a big enough va­ri­ety of cour­ses so that I can still suc­ceed being me. I think I can have a great ca­reer and earn a lot of money with the game I have. And if it changes over the next five years, I can al­ways go off and try some­thing else. ● ● ● if the ball was reined in and al­lowed to go side­ways more, you would

ben­e­fit. Trust me, I hit it side­ways enough. (Laughs.) The in­ter­est­ing thing for me stems from hit­ting so many 3-woods off the tee. If they hauled the ball back, peo­ple are go­ing to have to hit more driv­ers. They just will. So those who will ben­e­fit most are the best driv­ers of the ball.

Ar­guably, if there is more sidespin on the ball, I would find it eas­ier to shape and get it in play.And when I look at Rory, I think he would ben­e­fit from the old equip­ment.When he stands up un­der pres­sure, he wants to hit that 15-yard draw.That’s the shot he sees. But the mod­ern equip­ment stops him from do­ing that. I wouldn’t be buy­ing shares in my­self or Hen­rik should a ball change come in – we just don’t hit driver enough. But I would buy shares in Rory or Dustin John­son.They’re the best driv­ers, and they would only be helped by a ball change. ● ● ● what en­er­gises your brain when you’re not

play­ing golf? I’m re­ally into the mar­kets and the econ­omy. I used to fol­low pol­i­tics, but I grew to hate that. I find eco­nom­ics fas­ci­nat­ing, though. At home, I of­ten have Bloomberg or CNBC on. I know that sounds in­cred­i­bly bor­ing to most peo­ple, but I en­joy it. I don’t ac­tively in­vest, though. I’m not trying to make money. I’m just in­ter­ested in where money comes from and how it all works. More gen­er­ally, I’m in­trigued by how we all become vic­tims of our own suc­cess.There seems to be a nat­u­ral un­der­cur­rent in na­ture and in life – no mat­ter what in­dus­try you’re in – where things flow in cy­cles.And the econ­omy is like that in that there are al­ways go­ing to be re­ces­sions and ex­pan­sions. It al­most al­ways comes down to how peo­ple feel about things. Ca­reers are like that, too. I know mine is. I’ve of­ten had some of my low­est points right af­ter my big­gest suc­cesses.Why is that? Because I get com­pla­cent and stop fo­cus­ing on the right things. And when I’m in a low, I have to re-think and rein­vig­o­rate my­self. So I rise again. But I love the raw­ness to life, good and bad.And of­ten it is bad. Peo­ple fail, and peo­ple die. But that’s nec­es­sary to show the dis­gust­ing beauty of life. We can’t avoid it. ● ● ● you’re on the euro­pean tour tour­na­ment com­mit­tee. you’re not the typ­i­cal com­mit­tee mem­ber. is this the first sign of the ero­sion of an

in­quir­ing mind? (Laughs.) I did it because I didn’t want to be that guy who com­plains in ig­no­rance. I don’t com­plain about many things on tour. I don’t com­plain about bus sched­ules or the food in the play­ers’ lounge. Some play­ers do. I think we’re pretty lucky, and there are big­ger is­sues. I want to un­der­stand the predica­ments the tour faces in a whole host of ar­eas. It’s been bril­liant, too. I get the chance to spend time with (CEO) Keith Pel­ley. I get to un­der­stand his vi­sion and the way he is. I get to spend time lis­ten­ing to Thomas Bjorn in an en­vi­ron­ment where he is re­ally pro­duc­tive. He can be good and bad at times, I know, and I’ve said that to his face. But I re­ally quite like him. And in com­mit­tee, he has been bril­liant.Which is not to say we haven’t had dis­agree­ments. ● ● ● Away from golf? That would get me in trou­ble.All I would say is that I am a big ad­vo­cate of free­dom and re­spon­si­bil­ity. There are so many things right now where peo­ple just don’t ac­cept re­spon­si­bil­ity.They spend too much time trying to get the gov­ern­ment to sub­sidise their needs or wants. Pro golfers are more likely to sit on the right po­lit­i­cally, much more than on the left, because of the na­ture of golf.To be suc­cess­ful on tour – which is dif­fi­cult to achieve – you have to take a lot on your­self.There is no one hold­ing your hand out there. It’s a cut­throat en­vi­ron­ment pro­fes­sion­ally.And that trans­fers into how a player is likely to see the world po­lit­i­cally.Which is def­i­nitely what has hap­pened to me over the last five or six years. Hav­ing ex­pe­ri­enced the tour, I’ve come to see that as re­sem­bling real life.

what are your pol­i­tics?

I KNOW WHERE THE 65 CAME FROM TO­DAY. LAST NIGHT, UPON STEP­PING DOWN FROM THE TOP OF THE BUNK BED (OF WHICH LAURIE WAS SHAR­ING WITH ME), MY BOX­ERS GOT CAUGHT AND I GAVE MY­SELF, FRANKLY, A TREMEN­DOUS WEDGIE. I WAS HOPE­LESS AND STRANDED FOR A MO­MENT. IT GAVE ME PER­SPEC­TIVE.

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