A BUOYANT Eddie Pepperell is relishing the prospect of a different format when he returns to action in the United States today.

The golfer, from Abingdon, takes on Gary Woodland in his opening group clash (5.05pm GMT) at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

Contests with Justin Rose, ranked second in the world, and Emiliano Grillo follow at the exclusive 64-man event in Austin, Texas.

Group winners progress to the knockout stages, with Bubba Watson or Jordan Spieth among the potential opponents in the last 16 on Saturday.

The format marks a departure from the normal strokeplay on tour and takes Pepperell back to his days as an amateur, when he represented Great Britain & Ireland at the Jacques Leglise Trophy and Eisenhower Trophy.

“I haven’t played matchplay for years and years, but I used to love it,” he said.

“I had a good matchplay record as a kid. I love playing the man, as opposed to the course.

“I’ve not got any expectations or pressure on this event.

“I know Austin’s a great place and I’m going there to enjoy it.

“Good things can happen at this event, it depends how you play on the day and who you come up against.”

He added: “Who knows what might happen this week. I’ve taken it easy in the last week, trying to recover as much as I can.

“I’m looking forward to it, for sure.”

Pepperell needed to rest up at home in Sutton Courtenay last week, following an eventful debut at The Players Championship.

A terrific closing round of 66 catapulted him into a share of third place at the tournament, which is unofficially regarded as the sport’s fifth major.

It came as a big shot in the arm for the 28-year-old, whose next event is the Masters at Augusta.

He said: “There was something special about Sawgrass – the atmosphere was incredible.

“I loved the course, it was such fun to play.

“You can be made to look very foolish and you can feel pretty naked if things go wrong in front of all those people.

“But the opposite can happen if you do something good in front of that crowd – you’re made to feel like a hero.

“It’s nice to be part of something so big and I guess Augusta will be the same in many respects.

“Just having a good result in an event like that will probably do wonders for me, particularly playing in America.

“It’s a different beast out there, it’s bigger and louder.

“The courses have seemed tougher and it’s good for your game.

“But to have been able to contend to win that event on that course, really I should take nothing but pure confidence from it.”

Tomorrow’s meeting with Rose in particular will be one to savour, having played alongside him in the final round at Sawgrass.

Pepperell, ranked 36 in the world, said: “I think it was a good job I was playing with Justin.

“He had a good start and from my perspective I wanted to put in a good show alongside one of the best players in the world.”


  • Today: Eddie Pepperell v Gary Woodland
  • Tomorrow: Eddie Pepperell v Justin Rose
  • Friday: Eddie Pepperell v Emiliano Grillo
  • Saturday: Last-16, quarter-finals
  • Sunday: Semi-finals, final