GOLF: 'Pepper Army' set to inspire Eddie at Wentworth

Eddie Pepperell in action at Wentworth last year

Eddie Pepperell in action at Wentworth last year

First published in Sport Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Sports Reporter covering Oxford United. Follow us on twitter: @oxfordmailoufc. Call me on 01865 425458

EDDIE Pepperell is determined to give the ‘Pepper Army’ plenty to shout about at Wentworth as he attempts to recapture the magic which shot him into the spotlight 12 months ago.

The Abingdon golfer tees off in the opening round at 3pm today.

Dozens of supporters from his club, Frilford Heath, and Drayton Park, where he honed his skills as a youngster, are expected to make the journey to Surrey.

The family and friends were thankful they made the trip last year, when Pepperell, then a rookie on the European Tour, thrillingly contested the title in the final round.

He eventually finished just two shots from a play-off in joint sixth to claim a cheque in the region of £120,000 – comfortably the biggest pay day of his career. And the 23-year-old is hoping for more of the same this time around.

He said: “It will be great to have the Pepper Army again.

“I feel the support is really good for me and people want me to do well.

“I’m keen to get out there and show them what I can do.

“Last year, just being up there for the majority of the weekend and feeling the buzz was fantastic.

“I really loved that pressure – obviously I would love to have more of the same this week.”

The £3.8m event is the European Tour’s flagship tournament and always attracts a glittering field, with the likes of Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood among those taking part.

Pepperell said: “The crowds are bigger than a normal event and you get looked after really well.

“There’s just a sense of excitement around the tournament.

“There are big players there which also makes a difference – when Rory McIlroy is hitting balls on the range next to you, it excites you.”

Last year’s result virtually secured the Oxfordshire golfer’s tour card for 2014 and after a slow start to this season, there are signs of encouragement heading into the tournament.

Pepperell led the Spanish Open last week and went on to finish joint 24th, his best result of the campaign.

That, plus the memories from last year, will provide a boost as he begins today.

He said: “I feel like my confidence is growing and I will be able to stand on that first tee and play 18 holes of committed golf.

“If I can do that, I should play at a level that will get me in the tournament.

“It’s exciting to know that is a real possibility.”

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