EDDIE Pepperell is hoping to shake off any rustiness and hit the ground running on his return at the start of a big month tomorrow.

The Abingdon golfer begins his Irish Open challenge at 1.35pm in what will be his

first competitive action for seven weeks


It included a month-long spell where he did not even touch a club as the world No 36

rested an ongoing back problem instead of playing in the US Open at Pebble Beach


Pepperell admits the lack of competitive action is not ideal, but is satisfied the break has done the trick with the injury.

“I’m ready to get back out there,” he said. “I started practising two weeks ago and the body feels a lot better.

“The nerve discomfort I had which really forced me into the rest has gone – I’m not waking up in pain every day.

“When I start hitting balls it can get grouchy, but I can manage that.”

He added: “I’ve never been great at coming in after a long period off. But things could be different this time.

“In practise my game’s been feeling good.

“I was pleasantly surprised after having four weeks off. I was expecting it to feel quite alien, but it felt really comfortable.

“That was quite encouraging.

“I don’t feel very match-fit, but you won’t know how that is until Thursday and conditions could determine how important that is.

“I don’t think I will be very nervous, like I would have been in the past after a few weeks off.”

Pepperell, who is in a group with former world No 1 Lee Westwood and Irishman Paul Dunne, is returning for a big run of events on the European Tour.

Next week’s Scottish Open is the final tournament to warm up before Royal Portrush hosts the Open Championship.

Pepperell has performed well at all three in previous years – getting into a play-off at the Irish Open in 2015.

The Frilford Heath member believes the return to links golf will help minimise the disadvantages of his time off.

And while the strong field will be using the next fortnight to build towards the year’s final major, for Pepperell they have the same value.

He said: “They are all big and I will treat them with equal importance.

“As far as I’m concerned if I can get off to a good start in Ireland I’m pretty hopeful I could chuck in three good finishes.

“I think the fact it’s a links course helps. It naturally plays a little more into my strengths.

“My body will be the big thing, it will be interesting to see how it goes.”