Rising star Eddie Pepperell gets the maiden win he's been waiting for at Qatar Masters
KARIM JAAFAR/AFP/Getty Images
Sunday felt like a long time coming for England’s Eddie Pepperell. Many labeled the gregarious 27-year-old a rising talent on the European Tour, but he needed 129 starts in six seasons (along with one return trip Qualifying School) before finally claiming the breakthrough win so many expected.
Impressively, Pepperell’s maiden Euro Tour victory at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters came not through aggressive play or by overpowering Doha Golf Club. Rather, it was the patience Pepperell’s learned as he’s grown as a professional golfer that served him well, closing with a two-under 70 to hold off countryman Oliver Fisher by a stroke, winning with an 18-under 280 total.
Pepperell and Fisher started the day in the desert tied for the lead, and while Pepperell felt like he was struggling when he opened with eight straight pars before a birdie on the ninth, it was good enough to grab a four-stroke lead on Fisher, who had made a trio of bogeys on the front side.
“I had to play smarter on the front nine, with some tricky pins,” Pepperell said.
Tom Dulat/Getty Images
Playing with a cushion after making another birdie on the 10th hole, Pepperell picked his spots on the back nine. Case in point: On the short par-4 16th, after he had bogeyed the previous hole, Pepperell hit a 3-iron/wedge to set up a five-foot birdie. “I knew I was playing especially quite well tee to green,” Pepperell said.
Fisher, though, would not go quietly, making five birdies on the back nine to pull within one stroke as the pair played the par-5 18th hole. Both players laid up with their second shots, but Pepperell was in the rough to hit his third shot. Fisher hit his approach to 10 feet but failed to make the birdie, setting Pepperell up to take the title when he two-putted for his par.
"This will give me confidence,” said Pepperell, who first earned his European Tour card in 2012, but had to regain it at Q school in 2016. In 2017, he had four top-five finishes on the season, chronicling his season on his own highly entertaining blog.
“I’ve always felt and believed I will win out here, but it hadn’t happened before today,” Pepperell said. “You’ve always got to take that step and that’s uneasy, but at some point in everyone’s career they’ve got to do something for the first time. Hopefully, this is not my last.”