If more players were as entertaining as Eddie Pepperell then golf would be in a far better place. At times he can seem so far removed from some of his peers that it is almost like he is in a different profession.
To arrange an interview there is none of the deflating back-and-forth with a manager before being let down. He will simply answer a text and give you a time that works for him and then ask if it works for you.
It’s as refreshing as his attitude and now he’s a winner on the European Tour. Here, if you’re not yet a fan, I hope to explain why I’m such a big fan.
1. His blog, just read it
If you haven’t been here then make yourself a cup of tea, get a nice comfy chair, plump up the cushions and read on. Professional golfers are so hamstrung by what they say and think that they ought to say to please their management companies and sponsors that it can become pretty tedious to try and tease out a few lines and a bit of candidness.
Pepperell lays it on the line in his blog and has been doing so since 2012. The good, the bad and the indifferent are all covered, he writes it himself and it’s more insightful on a monthly basis into the life of a professional golfer than a sit-down with all of the world’s top 10 put together.
It’s quite a skill to talk about yourself and still remain interesting and Pepperell does it all a treat.
This comes from his latest blog written shortly after his maiden victory.
18th tee- Turn into right hip, rotate left hip as fast as possible in transition and let it go. Necked the life out of it, but it’s down the middle. It’ll do.
18th fairway- Be precise with target. Same swing thoughts as the tee shot. Reach the top of my swing and the lake on the left enters my mind like Birdman. Fat push it into the rough. Awful shot. Worst of the week.
2. Sarcy and smutty, what’s not to like?
Given that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit Pepperell is, thankfully, as low as they come. He has a bit of a love-hate relationship with Twitter but he remains pretty much the go-to player for some sort of humour and, quite possibly, a bit of smut.
“My sense of humour is a bit dark for Twitter, I would love to be a bit darker. I have been on and off it a few times, I know what I don’t like but I must enjoy some part of it. I’m certainly not there to use it to sell myself or for marketing myself as a brand or a product, I’m just someone who might have a slightly different sense of humour to some other people and I try to get that across.”
For a look at something really dull have a look at Jon Rahm’s Twitter. For a look at something really interesting have a look at Pepperell’s.
I hit it so well on the range today I almost posted a video. Then I realised even I don’t give a shit.
— Eddie Pepperell (@PepperellEddie) February 19, 2018
3. He’s addicted to honesty, imagine
Throughout all of Pepperell’s interviews, blogs, tweets and anything else honesty sits at the core, hence why he is so fascinating and likeable.
In an interview we did at the back end of 2016 when he regained his card at Q School he had this to say…
“When I was 18 I made quite a few changes with my mentality and so, from that point on, I have always been addicted to truth and honesty. I always want to know the truth even if that is uncomfortable and I am not afraid to put that down in writing. I do feel a little exposed sometimes but ultimately people can connect to it and the struggles that we might have. They might see me as a talented golfer but I’m just a normal person like everyone else on tour.”
Compare that, for one second, to the generic ‘played great, just didn’t catch a break’ claptrap we hear on a weekly basis.
4. He stands up for caddies, imagine
One of my favourite blogs was from September 2015 when he explained quite how poorly the caddies were treated generally.
His current caddie is Mick Doran who now has 35 wins, has worked at seven Ryder Cups, has been on the bag of Lee Westwood, Justin Rose and Luke Donald and, like Pepperell, isn’t one for easy platitudes.
Doran was brilliant coming down the stretch in Qatar, Pepperell pointed out that he’s brilliant all the time.
“Eddie’s a really good lad and not many players would stand up for the caddies like he does and, particularly for such a young lad, he gets a lot of respect from the caddies. It’s not hard is it but he does it.”
Quite, it’s not hard.
5. Golf’s answer to Robin Hood
Pepperell is now on the players’ committee and he posted a light-hearted manifesto on Twitter. We spoke to expand on his ideas for change and this answer stood out.
I've been told more than two people have put themselves forward for the remaining two spots on the Tour committee. Here is my Manifesto… pic.twitter.com/AQGGnul6Ek
— Eddie Pepperell (@PepperellEddie) October 22, 2017
“At one tournament this year, a Rolex event, someone was still getting paid to be there which really surprised me. It does happen, Abu Dhabi would be one where it is most extreme where they might be paying out $5-7m to a few guys with prize money of $3m. I understand why it happens and it is a business model that works with the fields that it gets but it’s unfortunate for players like myself.”
And here it comes, a collection of words that would unlikely leave the mouth of any other player on the European Tour.
“If I was a top-10 player in the world I would put it back into the prize fund and I would do that to make a point and I would probably be forced not to play the event.”
6. Yours for a fiver
Pepperell was asked in his press conference about his logo-free hat.
“How much money have you got? A fiver and it’s yours!”
I don’t know why this makes me so happy but it does. Golf/professional sport/life can be quite vulgar at times. A variety of Premier League managers are well known for making themselves a few quid for mentioning the league’s sponsor in post-match interviews, watch the occasional golfer surreptitiously let his arm ride up to scratch his head in order to get their new watch into shot.
It’s a shambles, multi-millionaires lining their pockets yet again.
And there’s our hero Eddie with nothing on his cap with just the right amount of hair peeping out from under it.
7. Even his clothes are spot on
My simmering obsession goes up a level by his choice of clothing sponsor, Wolsey.
There are, let’s be honest, some horrific golfing get-ups these days and Pepperell and Robert Rock are flying the flag nicely with their classy apparel (a dreadful word).
8. He’s not a bomber
Pepperell isn’t reliant on just lumping it 310 yards which, don’t get me wrong is an art form in itself, but this stat tells an impressive story.
At Q School he hit 10 drivers total over the six days and he loves his strong 3-wood. Last season he hit more of them than any other player and it worked a treat in Qatar.
Most 3-woods hit from the tee this week:
Van Rooyen 15
➡️ There's more than one way to play golf. pic.twitter.com/UAPqrO6S6B
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) February 25, 2018
9. This has been coming
Pepperell has been on the radar since his amateur days where he shone. In his first full year on the Challenge Tour he graduated alongside Chris Paisley. If you go down the rankings you’ll find the US Open champion Brooks Koepka down in 43rd spot.
And other than the 2016 season, when he drove it out of bounds on his last hole in Portugal to miss the cut and therefore lose his card, he would generally finish inside the top 50 on the European Tour money list.
In 2015 he lost a play-off to Soren Kjeldsen at Royal County Down, last season was his best to that point after a spectacular second half to it which was kick-started at the US Open.
And now he’s a winner and we can trot out easy phrases like he’s finally beginning to fulfil his potential.
10. Even his peers like him
You get a genuine sense on Twitter and the like how pleased your peers are after a victory. Some get some banal offering, Gary Player will congratulate you whoever you are but every now and then pretty much everyone comes out to say well done and there is a genuine warmth towards a player.
This is always the case when Tommy Fleetwood wins and this was the case on Sunday night.
— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) February 25, 2018