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GOLF: Oxfordshire star Pepperell ready for the big time
Eddie Pepperell is all set to take on some of the world’s best golfers next season after securing a place on the European Tour.
The Abingdon golfer turned professional less than 18 months ago, but will tee up alongside the likes of Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood from December.
It is a huge achievement for the 21-year-old, who is the first golfer from Oxfordshire to qualify for the elite tour in 20 years.
Pepperell clinched his card after shooting a six-under par 65 in the fourth round of the Apulia Grand Final in Italy.
The joint seventh-place finish in Italy saw him climb to 13th in the end-of-season European Challenge Tour rankings.
But despite his age, the talented youngster believes he is well prepared to take the step up.
“I feel like I’ve done an apprenticeship,” he said.
“Although I’ve only been a pro for 14 or 15 months, I feel like I’ve learnt a lot in that space of time.
“I’ve been around quite a long time as an amateur and a junior, going up the ranks.
“I don’t feel like this has happened too soon, even though I’m only 21, I feel like I’m ready for this opportunity to learn a lot and learn fast. “Hopefully I’ll perform.”
Although Pepperell’s entire golfing career had been building towards the achievement last Saturday, it was not followed by a night of raucous partying.
He said: “I was in bed pretty early, I was absolutely shattered.
“It’s been a long year and I was playing on adrenalin last week, really.
“It’s sunk in a little bit now, though.”
But there were plenty of celebrations at Frilford Heath, where Pepperell played much of his junior golf and is the club he represents.
Jimmy James, Frilford’s general manager, said: “As a club, it’s been a huge topic of conversation.
“Lots of members were ringing me up during the final round, they were watching his scores on the internet intently.
“All his hard work has paid off, we have seen the amount of training he puts in – his work ethic is just superb.
“But also he’s come out a really nice young man, who has got his head screwed on.”
Pepperell’s first event on the European Tour is likely to be at the Nelson Mandela Championship in Duban, South Africa, which starts on December 6.