EDDIE Pepperell is savouring being back on the big stage when he returns to Wentworth today, a year after finding the BMW PGA Championship tough to watch on television.

The Abingdon golfer will be taking his place alongside the likes of Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood and Ernie Els for one of the European Tour’s biggest events of the year.

Twelve months ago, Pepperell, who had lost his card at the end of the 2016 season, was not ranked highly enough to enter.

But one of the big bonuses of the Frilford Heath member’s strong finish to 2017 was securing a place back in the field in Surrey.

Although Pepperell was forced to pull out of yesterday’s Pro-Am with a wrist problem, he is hopeful the injury will not have any impact when he tees off with Andrew Johnston and Haotong Li at 7.50 this morning.

“It will be great going back, I love the event,” the 27-year-old said.

“It was tough last year watching, although I didn’t see much of it.

“This and the Irish Open were the two events I didn’t want to miss again.

“It’s close to where I live, but beyond that it’s just the prestige of the event.

“And the fact I did well in my rookie year as well makes a difference, that was a really big week for me.

“I always have good memories going back.”

Pepperell’s joint sixth in 2013, when he challenged for the title, was his breakthrough event.

And after playing the course last week, the Qatar Masters champion, who was joint 14th in Sicily ten days ago, remains convinced it is a layout which suits his game.

He said: “I think it does, particularly if it plays firm. To me it comes down to your iron game, which is my big strength if I’m playing well.

“If I hit my irons the way I know I can – and I saw a lot of good signs in Sicily – then if I can putt solidly I’m going to shoot four steady rounds.

“It’s not a tournament where 20-under wins, it’s more like ten or 12. I feel I can achieve that with my strategy.”

Few players in the field will be backed by such a supportive crowd with the ‘Pepper Army’, made up of friends and family from across Oxfordshire, due to be out in force again.

And with Pepperell wearing a special cap to raise money for Oxford’s Helen and Douglas House hospice, he heads to Wentworth in good spirits.

He said: “I’m coming off a win not long ago, the support will be good and with the stuff I’m doing with Helen & Douglas House as well, it’s just a nice feeling going into it.”