EDDIE Pepperell is hoping improvements to his swing over the winter will help him hit the ground running today.
The Abingdon golfer is beginning 2014 in good company, playing alongside the likes of Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald in the Middle East.
He tees off at 9.05am (UK time) alongside Swede Kristoffer Broberg and Victor Riu, from France.
It is a high-quality field, but Pepperell is heartened by the strides he has made on fundamental aspects of his game, after admitting to getting sidetracked during his rookie season.
He said: “My putting is a lot better than it was at this point last year. I think I will be consistent.
“I’m far more aware and understanding of my swing and long game, which can only help.
“In the middle of last year I tried to do a couple of things which weren’t beneficial for me.
“I started watching Ben Hogan and tried to copy a couple of things. There was no need, and it cost me.”
The 22-year-old, who represents Frilford Heath, actually began the 2014 season in November, missing the cut at two tournaments in South Africa.
The most recent event, the Alfred Dunhill Championship, saw him double bogey the 18th hole in the second round to miss the cut.
While frustrated, Pepperell is not alarmed.
He said: “I didn’t play that badly, it was just a few poor swings at bad times.
“To miss the cut with the second one was particularly bad, because I would have backed myself to finish in the top 15.
“I’m quietly confident, but you can’t be too sure.”
Once again he will team up with Jamie Herbert, director of golf at Bicester Hotel Golf and Spa, as his caddy this season after enjoying success together last year.
Pepperell added: “Jamie is still on the bag, he’s going to do all of it, which is good to build a relationship.”