Sunday 25 August 2019

Pepperell puts Knox in his box

Eddie Pepperell. Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo
Eddie Pepperell. Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo

Phil Casey

Eddie Pepperell claimed bragging rights over four-time major winner Rory McIlroy after enjoying another Masters tradition on his tournament debut.

The odd number of players making the cut meant Pepperell played alongside marker and Augusta National member Jeff Knox, who famously outscored Rory McIlroy in the same situation in 2014.

Knox holds the course record of 61 from the members' tees, but started by three-putting the opening hole yesterday and carded an approximate 74 to Pepperell's 72, despite holing a lengthy birdie on the 18th.

"I did beat him so make sure you report that, I don't want any myths going around," Pepperell joked. "Which makes me better than Rory McIlroy apparently.

"I wasn't sure I was playing with him until I saw him on the range hitting balls, and then I thought 'I'm in trouble'. He had a really nice swing. The course is probably a little too long for him at this point but man, he's a good player and his short game was brilliant.

"I offered to give him a putt on 15 from five feet, right to left downhill and he refused to take it and then he missed it. I wanted to be really generous in case he did beat me and then I had an excuse!

"I always thought I would like to go out on my own and get it over with in two hours but it is nice to have company."

Pepperell has posted scores of 74, 73 and 72 on his Masters debut and believes Augusta National should suit his strong iron play going forward, but admitted he will need to improve his putting.

"Even though it's my first time, on this course it's pretty obvious where you don't want to go," the 28-year-old added. "It's easy to say local knowledge plays a part, but you'd have to be either entirely stupid or terrible to hit it in some of the spots you don't want to be round here - I could be the former."

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