888poker.com PGA EuroPro Tour newcomer Eddie Pepperell (Frilford Heath Golf Club) has earned his place on this seasonâ€™s Challenge Tour after winning his first professional title at the Allianz Open Cotes dâ€™Armor Bretagne in France.
The 21-year-old turned professional last May and gained his 888poker.com PGA EuroPro Tour card after finishing tied sixth at Qualifying School last month. The victory on his Challenge Tour debut marks a dramatic turn in form for Pepperell, who missed the cut at Wensum Valley and Lingfield Park.
An opening round of three under on the par-70 course put him in a strong position before carding 71 on both the second and third rounds. His hopes of taking the title seemed slim early in the final day when he began the fourth round with two bogeys on the first five to fall back to one over for the tournament. However, an outstanding back nine which included three birdies saw him set the clubhouse target on three under for the tournament.
The Oxfordshire golfer looked to have the tournament in the back until Denmarkâ€™s Jeppe Huldahl made birdie on the seventeenth and eighteenth to force a play-off. However, when the Dane struck a wayward tee shot and bogeyed the extra hole Pepperell took advantage with a par to claim the â‚¬25,600 prize.
Pepperellâ€™s maiden victory enables him to play a full season on the Challenge Tour this year, having come into the Brittany event with limited playing opportunities due to his lowly category.
The winnerâ€™s cheque also moved Pepperell up to eighth place in the Challenge Tour Rankings, and gives him a golden opportunity of gaining a European Tour card just one year after turning professional.
â€œIt feels like Iâ€™ve won twice,â€ joked Pepperell after collecting his trophy. â€œTo be honest I thought Iâ€™d done enough first time round, but credit to Jeppe for taking it to a play-off. I was handed a life-line with Jeppe finding the bushes off the tee, but I told myself not to get defensive because I thought heâ€™d still probably make a five at worst. So Iâ€™m just delighted to get the job done, because this win will open up so many doors for me.
â€œBeing able to plan my schedule is priceless, because before this week I didnâ€™t know where Iâ€™d be playing next. So to be able to pick and choose which tournaments I play in is a huge bonus. Iâ€™m just relieved more than anything. Winning your first tournament as a pro is always special, but to do it after a play-off and with a back nine like that makes it even more special. Iâ€™m just so pleased, not only for myself but for all the members back at Frilford Heath Golf Club who have supported me. I canâ€™t wait for the rest of the season now.â€