ED­DIE PEPPERELL

My full-swing check­list will help you hit longer, straighter iron shots

Golf World (UK) - - CONTENTS - BY ED­DIE PEPPERELL

The two-time Eu­ro­pean Tour win­ner trans­forms your swing in four sim­ple steps.

SWING TIP 2 Club­head stays out­side hands in the take­away

I want to see the club­head a lit­tle out­side my hands but still un­der my chest when it’s halfway back. This is eas­ier to achieve when you stand a lit­tle closer to the ball (see tip 1). If I stand too far away from the ball, I end up reach­ing for it and that forces my left shoul­der high and away from me and throws the club­head too far in­side the line go­ing back.

SWING TIP 3 Get left arm point­ing right in down­swing

I use my left arm as a ref­er­ence on the way down. I tend to get it a lit­tle dis­con­nected from the body and it ends up point­ing left of the tar­get. The best ball­strik­ers keep the left arm con­nected to the body so it points right of the tar­get. Keep your left arm close to your chest so your hands are be­low your right shoul­der, not your head, when viewed down the line.

SWING TIP 1 Stand close to the ball at ad­dress

I like to stand quite close to the ball be­cause it means my hands sit a lit­tle lower nat­u­rally and I get into a bet­ter pos­ture and move the club into a bet­ter po­si­tion on the way back. The clas­sic thing you’re taught when you’re learn­ing to play is that you should have a hand’s width of space be­tween the belt buckle and the butt of the grip, but I pre­fer half a hand’s width.

SWING TIP 4 Ro­tate up­per body to de­liver the club

Once you’ve got your body into a po­si­tion where your left arm is more shal­low and aim­ing to the right of tar­get start­ing down, you sim­ply ro­tate the big mus­cles in your up­per body to square the club­face up and com­press the ball at im­pact. That body ro­ta­tion is vi­tal as it cre­ates the club­head speed you want and makes it eas­ier to de­liver the club­head on a con­sis­tently neu­tral path. es­pe­cially when Pepperell is tired. For a year in his late teens he was, in his own words, “use­less,” a young man bereft of en­ergy and strength. As ever though, he has a fas­ci­nat­ing – and typ­i­cally dif­fer­ent – take on his ill­ness.

“I liken it to an ex­pres­sion I hear in eco­nomics,” he ex­plains. “The three things that re­ally mat­ter in terms of long-term pros­per­ity are pro­duc­tiv­ity, short-term debt cy­cle and long-term debt cy­cle. I think of my mind­set as pro­duc­tiv­ity. As long as that is good I’m al­ways go­ing to trend up. Cur­rent form is my short-term debt cy­cle, which is dic­tated by de­ci­sions I make. Then there is the long-term ca­reer (debt) cy­cle. As I saw it, I’d had 10 good years and the ill­ness was just the sort of dip you have to ex­pect in the long-term. I think I’ll have two more dips like it be­fore I’m done. It would be un­usual for me not to ex­pe­ri­ence some sort of event that causes a down­ward shift in my for­tunes.”

It wasn’t long be­fore Pepperell was achiev­ing great things in am­a­teur golf. He picked up the Welsh Stroke­play and the Por­tuguese Am­a­teur, as well as be­ing one-sixth of the win­ning Eng­land side at the 2010 Eu­ro­pean Am­a­teur Team Cham­pi­onship. Along­side the likes of Tommy Fleet­wood, Chris Pais­ley and Tom Lewis – all win­ners on the Eu­ro­pean Tour in 2018 – Pepperell saw off fu­ture PGA Tour player David Ling­merth in the sin­gles as the English lads beat Swe­den in the fi­nal.

At that stage it was all part of the plan, one en­cour­aged might­ily by Pepperell’s fa­ther, Ron. After 25 years as a tool­maker, the el­der Pepperell gave it all up to run the club­house of a lo­cal foot­ball team. Then it was on to a driv­ing range and the per­fect av­enue for his younger son to blos­som as a player.

Which is not to say that, quite apart from his night­mare ex­pe­ri­ence in Por­tu­gal – one that re­duced Pepperell and his long-term part­ner, Jen, to tears in their ho­tel room – things have

‘FOR A YEAR IN HIS LATE TEENS PEPPERELL WAS, IN HIS OWN WORDS, “USE­LESS”.’

gone en­tirely smoothly. After turn­ing pro in 2011, the for­mer am­a­teur star found him­self play­ing the mini-tours with­out much suc­cess. Things got so bad in­sol­vency loomed be­fore a life-chang­ing Chal­lenge Tour vic­tory in France.

“Win­ning that week was so im­por­tant be­cause it meant I could play the Chal­lenge Tour for the rest of that year,” he as­serts. “If I had failed there, I would have done all my spon­sor­ship. I’d have had to turn to my par­ents for help and they would have strug­gled to do that.”

From that timely suc­cess Pepperell made it onto the Eu­ro­pean Tour in 2013. And it is fair to say things are go­ing rather nicely at the mo­ment. After adding a wire-to-wire British Mas­ters vic­tory to a Qatar Mas­ters win ear­lier this year, Pepperell had added close to £2m to his once pal­try bank bal­ance.

“I have never ques­tioned my men­tal ca­pa­bil­ity to win,” he in­sists. “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 log­i­cal sense to me. Which is not to say that it is 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 have found it more dif­fi­cult when I am un­der pres­sure.”

That claim was hardly borne out by his play at Wal­ton Heath en route to the big­gest vic­tory of his life. Mak­ing an ex­tra­or­di­nary hole-in-one on the open­ing day – the ball hit the pin, bounced away then spun back into the cup – and hol­ing out for an ea­gle two at the par-4 10th on the fi­nal day, Pepperell dis­played an ex­tra­or­di­nary level of calm in see­ing off a pow­er­ful ar­ray of chal­lengers.

“When Ed­die hit the front he looked very com­fort­able,” says Sky Sports com­men­ta­tor Ewen Mur­ray. “He led from start to fin­ish. That’s not easy to do,

es­pe­cially for some­one who is not a sea­soned pro. And it is im­por­tant that he has won again so soon after the first one.

“His in­de­pen­dent think­ing showed up in his play. He in­stinc­tively knew what to do in what were tough con­di­tions. He short­ened his back­swing and fol­low through. I can see why he does well in links golf.”

It is not, how­ever, in the full swing where Pepperell has made his big­gest strides in 2018. Rather, a new-found ex­per­tise with the put­ter has ini­ti­ated the most sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence. De­pressed with his play on the greens, Pepperell stopped in to see putting guru Michael Kanski on the drive north to the Scot­tish Open. It was to prove a fruit­ful visit, one that has led to the un­likely claim that “Homebase has saved my ca­reer.”

“I’ve done just one sim­ple drill since July,” ex­plains Pepperell. “I am some­one who plays to­tally off feel in my long game and this drill gives me that same sen­sa­tion with my putting. All I do is stick some Blu Tac to the top of my grip. Then I wedge a tee hor­i­zon­tally to the top of the Blu Tac, so it is at right an­gles to the grip and rests be­tween my wrists. It doesn’t ac­tu­ally touch my wrists, but it is al­most a per­fect fit be­tween them.

“So, if I ‘drag’ the han­dle of the club away from the ball, the tee is go­ing to stick into the in­side of my left wrist. The key is to main­tain the lit­tle gap be­tween the tee and my wrists so that I stay ‘con­nected’ through­out my stroke. In other words, the re­la­tion­ship be­tween my hands and the club is con­stant.”

As for the fu­ture, it is dif­fi­cult to see Pepperell fol­low­ing the well-worn path so many of Europe’s lead­ing play­ers have taken to the PGA Tour. Not full-time any­way. As Mur­ray points out, “Ed­die is the quin­tes­sen­tial English­man,” one happy to spend most of his time at home walk­ing his dog, a Hun­gar­ian Vizsla named Gus, who has be­come some­thing of a cult fig­ure through Pepperell’s Twit­ter feed.

Still, things are go­ing to be dif­fer­ent in 2019, at least in terms of sched­ul­ing. As a mem­ber of the world’s top 50 play­ers, Pepperell will be ex­empt into all four seg­ments of golf’s Grand Slam and all of the World Golf Cham­pi­onship events. Which should not be a worry. Al­ready, the lad from Ox­ford who read his first book at the age of 20 – rugby star Lawrence Dal­laglio’s au­to­bi­og­ra­phy – has shone at ma­jor level. There was a T-16 fin­ish in his first US Open at Erin Hills in 2017. And, in­fa­mously as he ad­mit­ted to be­ing a lit­tle hung over dur­ing the fi­nal round, a tie for sixth in the Open at Carnoustie ear­lier this year.

Char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally though, Pepperell is al­ready pon­der­ing what is to come from all an­gles.

“I’ve been think­ing about next year with some ap­pre­hen­sion,” he ad­mits. “It’s all go­ing to be very new to me. I love play­ing in the ma­jors but they are bloody big deals. And stress­ful. And al­most un­en­joy­able at times; there is so much go­ing on. Which is sad in a way. But I have to deal with all that.

“I’m ex­cited though. My earn­ing po­ten­tial is go­ing to go through the roof. Which is ob­vi­ously good. But more im­por­tantly I’m go­ing to have the op­por­tu­nity to chal­lenge my­self against the best in the world more reg­u­larly. I’ll have four WGCs with no cut that will give me a chance to build my way into those events.”

One last thing. While Pepperell may have made a first move to­wards be­com­ing part of the Eu­ro­pean Tour es­tab­lish­ment – he has al­ready be­come a mem­ber of the tour’s tour­na­ment com­mit­tee – it is un­likely that a seat at the top ta­ble will curb his in­stincts much.

“I don’t want to be the guy who com­plains in ig­no­rance,” he says. “I just want to be more aware of what is hap­pen­ing.”

One thing that will never change.

‘PEPPERELL’S SUM­MER VISIT TO PUTTING GURU MICHAEL KANSKI HAS LED TO THE UN­LIKELY CLAIM THAT “HOMEBASE SAVED MY CA­REER”.’

✘ ✘ ✔ ✔

I check my hand po­si­tion by plac­ing my right hand against my belt buckle. The fin­gers over­lap my left hand.

Wal­ton Heath win proved grow­ing com­po­sure.

Pub­lic re­la­tions: Pepperell is part of a close fam­ily.

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