PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — The Florida sun is out in full force on Wednesday at TPC Sawgrass, and it's beating straight down on Eddie Pepperell. He's also surrounded by a herd of reporters, likely adding a few extra degrees to his body temperature. Despite the profuse sweating and his face turning redder by the second, he's undeterred in being a quote-machine, his media availability doubling as a stand-up routine.
This should come as no surprise to anyone who follows Pepperell on Twitter, or anyone who watched the final round of last year's Open Championship at Carnoustie. It was there where the Englishman fired a final-round 67, which briefly gave him the clubhouse lead. As he awaited for the tournament to finish, he told the media that he had posted one of the rounds of his life with a "little" hangover, achieving instant legend status on the internet.
Unfortunately for Pepperell, the two things he's most known for, at least in the minds of American golf fans—his Twitter account and his Carnoustie hangover—are the two things he wishes people wouldn't most associate with him. Like any tour pro, he'd love to be known for his play on the course, which has been superb over the last two years. In August of 2017, Pepperell was the 513th ranked player in the world. He's currently 43rd, and was as high as 33rd after his victory this past October at the British Masters, the second European Tour win of his career.
But, as Pepperell knows, until he contends in a big-time event on American soil, he'll still be the funny Brit on Twitter who also shot a 67 in the Open while feeling a little under the weather.
"I feel like I’m known for the wrong reasons, like having a hangover at the British Open," Pepperell said on Wednesday at TPC Sawgrass, where he'll be making his first career start at the Players Championship. "Listen, ironically, I’m probably most known for that or my Twitter, which is everything I despise about life really. I never wanted to be a social media guy or anything like that, but it is what it is, it’s a sign of many things."
With a following of nearly 75,000, there is no turning back for Pepperell now. He only has himself to blame, as his tweets are often worthy of aggregation from a number of golf sites, this one included. Just last week, Pepperell tweeted out that he had shot a 68 at Bay Hill in a pair of Jack Nicklaus 1986 Masters socks, and a picture of them hit Twitter soon after:
Both Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player even commented on the slick-looking socks, which brought a smile to Pepperell's face. Maybe Twitter isn't the scourge of the earth after all.
“I think with things like this, and it reminds me a bit of the British Masters where I joked about Justin Rose only giving me a dairy milk and not a fruit and nut [candy bar], is I think if you can throw something quite eccentric in there it can open up something. So these guys like Justin, or Jack [Nicklaus] or Gary [Player] or whoever it is, we all have our quirks, but you need to open them up. I think little things like this can do that, I’ve found that my Twitter has done that occasionally. I’m not afraid to jump at anything."
The British Masters joke he's referring to was another one of Pepperell's greatest hits. Tournament host Justin Rose had left a Cadbury Dairy Milk candy bar in each player's locker that week, and Pepperell kindly asked for a fruit and nut one in addition on Twitter. His wish was granted, and an appreciative Pepperell went out and had one of the weeks of his life, which included a hole-in-one and the victory.
It's stuff like that, or a pair of socks, that Pepperell doesn't despise as much as he leads on.
“I think [Twitter] it can help in that sense, so it was quite nice just to see Gary Player and Jack talking about socks as opposed to 18 majors. I mean, as great as he is, it’s something so different that could work. That’s not to say I do it for that reason, but it just happened, like with the socks, or a fruit and nut."
Sadly, for those of us in the United States, we only get to see Pepperell on rare occasions. He's currently eligible to play in just four PGA Tour events this year, and he only scheduled three, last week at Bay Hill, this week at the Players Championship and the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town in April. Of course, thanks to his world ranking, he'll also be at both remaining WGCs on the schedule and the majors. This is just how he likes it.
“I have no ambition at the moment to join this tour or to be over here," he said. "My schedule for this year is just amazing, and if someone could offer me it for another 10 years, I would take it, absolutely. I don’t expect things to stay the way that they are, but I’m just testing the waters a little bit. It’s a new thing for me out here.
“I’m very happy with the life I live and where I live, it’s great, and frankly as far as I’m concerned I’ve earned a decent amount of money. I’m not chasing money in that sense, don’t get me wrong, the fact that you play for $9 million at a regular PGA Tour event last week is unbelievable, but that’s not the deciding factor for me."
If he ever changes his mind, he'd be welcomed with open arms. Just don't count on it.
“I don’t have any longer term ambitions, I think that would require me living over here, and with my Twitter history I’d have trouble getting a green card. It’d be difficult, but Donald Trump might not mind it."