GOLF: Eddie's back in the swing

Oxford Mail: Eddie Pepperell, seen practising for the US Open in June last year, hopes the   experience of his first rookie season will stand him in good stead for 2014 Eddie Pepperell, seen practising for the US Open in June last year, hopes the experience of his first rookie season will stand him in good stead for 2014

Eddie Pepperell flies out to the Middle East this week confident of avoiding ‘second season syndrome’ on the European Tour.

Oxfordshire’s top golfer enjoyed a highly successful rookie year in 2013, finishing 76th on the money list and making his major debut at the US Open.

The aim now is to take another step forward, beginning with the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, which starts next week.

Pepperell is heading to the UAE tomorrow to spend a few days acclimatising before the hard work begins.

The Frilford Heath player, from Abingdon, is optimistic 2014 can be even better than his first year on tour and is unfazed about the possibility it could be hard to maintain his form.

He said: “It’s natural to have those thoughts and worries. I think everybody does, but I try to bring it back and think logically.

“If I do the right things, that won’t be the case, so there’s no need to worry.

“There’s that inevitable pressure where you expect to do better.

“I want to do better than I did last year, that’s really the aim.

“I have missed getting the focus from playing and competing, which drives me on.

“There’s really no reason why this year shouldn’t be better.

“I would have to hit some poor form and for it to be prolonged. For that to happen, there would be certain fundamental things that would be wrong.

“I’m motivated and trying to learn all the time and trying to improve. There’s no way you can get any worse over a sustained period of time if you do that.”

Pepperell’s excellent first year has already helped his campaign for 2014.

An improved ranking means he is eligible to enter in Abu Dhabi, where he was only a reserve 12 months ago.

It marks the start of three weeks in the region, with high-profile events in Qatar and Dubai to follow.

Pepperell, who will turn 23 on the opening day in Qatar, missed the cut in two events in South Africa last month, but regards this run of tournaments as the real start of the season.

He said: “To me, the Desert Swing is the start of the season and it would be nice to get off to a good start.

“It’s going to be good to go back this year.

“I played all the courses last year, so I know what to expect. That will certainly help me.”

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