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'Beefed-up' Pepperell finds his range


Former British Masters champion Paul Dunne plays his second shot on his third hole en route to a level-par opening round PA

Former British Masters champion Paul Dunne plays his second shot on his third hole en route to a level-par opening round PA

Former British Masters champion Paul Dunne plays his second shot on his third hole en route to a level-par opening round PA

Eddie Pepperell confesses that before the all-meat diet that has transformed his physique, and he hopes his game, he would eat an entire Terry's Chocolate Orange every night. "And that was with a few glasses of red wine," he said.

The Englishman describes his intake as "boring" nowadays, but if he can carry on producing ball-striking performances such as this here at the first round of the British Masters, then he will believe the sacrifice to have been more worth it.

On four-under, Pepperell, 29, is in touch with pace-setter David Law - the Scot who shot a seven-under 64 - but knows he should be closer after the opening day of the European Tour's resumption following the four-month pandemic hiatus.

"I definitely could have got it to six- or seven-under," Pepperell said reflecting on a number of missed putts. "But I'll take it. Other than the lack of feedback from crowds, it wasn't too bad out there."

Certainly his playing partner was impressed. Lee Westwood is the Close House host and after his own 70 commented on his countryman.

"Eddie has a lovely action," Westwood, the world No 34, said. "You can see the compression he puts on it and the great flight so it's no surprise whenever I play with him that he shoots under par. That diet must be working."

Pepperell, as he tends to do, went "extreme" with his lockdown formula. "For four months all my girlfriend and I ate was steak, liver and bone broth every day. I must say, my body feels amazing for it," he said.

"Strange I know and contradictory to what you might read, and my girlfriend is a nutritionist who was a vegan two years ago, so for her it's been a complete 180. But she's flying on it. Bizarre.

"I wanted to improve my health. I had a few issues last year, back injuries, which in hindsight I can relate to what I was putting in my body."

Pepperell believes in the long-term he will have more speed and flexibility in his swing, although he does not think he will rival Bryson DeChambeau, the American who has made himself the game's biggest hitter by putting on 18kg in bulk in under a year.

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"I've also beefed up in the sense that I've eaten a lot of beef," Pepperell said. "But I've taken the opposite route to Bryson. My waistline is apparently quite a few centimetres thinner. It will probably pay off more for him than it will for me."

Perhaps, but it is easy to envisage Pepperell the world No 84, continuing his fine record at the British Masters. He won two years ago, finished second last year and must be favourite to prevail again even at this early stage.

Law is one clear of another pair of Englishmen in Garrick Porteous and Oliver Fisher, as well as Italian Renato Parore.

Greystones' Paul Dunne, the 2017 champion, is tied for 75th on level-par, while Gavin Moynihan is two shots further back after an opening round of 73 - a score matched by Cormac Sharvin. Best of the Irish quartet in action yesterday was Jonathan Caldwell, who is level with Pepperell, three off the lead.

Seamus Power is the only Irishman in the field on the PGA Tour this week, at the 3M Open in Blaine, Minnesota. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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