There are no overnight sensations in golf.
Sometimes you find a 24-month fast-riser, but not all that often.
Today we present British Masters champion Eddie Pepperell.
Pepperell became the first guy to go wire-to-wire on the European Tour this season. Yes, you read that right, first guy to lead from start to finish.
And this one is a biggie across the pond. You can find names on the trophy like Ballesteros, Faldo, Norman, Woosnam, Trevino, Jacklin from the modern era. The latest winner, fast Eddie, came through in testy conditions last week. It was cool and windy most of the time at Walton Heath, very cold and rainy for the final round. Bust out the waterproofs, as Faldo calls the rain suits.
Pepperell played well enough to take a three-shot lead into the final 18 but he saw that shrink to a shot by the turn. He did something about it quickly, sensationally when he holed his second shot from 122-yards out for eagle two at the par four 10th. He needed that because late bogeys at the 15th and 16th dropped that lead to a single shot over playing partner Alex Bjork of Sweden. They tied with 17th with pars then faced the 459-yard 18, a difficult closing hole.
Bjork gave Eddie the breathing room he needed with a big hook three-wood into the deep heather that pretty much doomed him after Pepperell pulled driver and hit it perfect, splitting the fairway.
Bjork suffered a bogey, Pepperell saved par and put his second win of the European Tour season in the books. He jumped to seventh in their important Race To Dubai but more important, he took a huge leap in the world rankings.
It is a remarkable climb considering that two years ago the 29-year-old Englishman had to go back to the qualifying school where he managed to save his card. He was outside the top 200 in the rankings. This week he’ll get inside the top 40, perhaps as high as No. 33.
What all this means for him is a total change in career path. He’ll most likely be in the Masters. The top 50 at the end of 2018 are invited. Then there are the lucrative WGC events, the ones that made Tiger Woods millions. That opens up huge money, especially for a guy who plays on the European Tour — the poor sister of the PGA Tour.
The win warmed Pepperell in a hurry, despite the bone-chilling four hours plus that he spent in the Sunday English elements.
“It’s brilliant,” he said after his even par round of 72 got him to the winning nine-under par score, good for a two-shot victory over Bjork. “I said yesterday I wouldn’t know how it felt being in the lead at this event as opposed to another one but now that I’ve won it, it does feel special,” he continued. “The crowds are great, I’ve had some great local support around a beautiful golf course – one I’ve played a lot as a junior and an amateur – so to come and win this event is really special. It was such a tough day with the conditions. I didn’t swing it very well from the get-go and it was really hard then to find it. It was an absolute grind for four or five hours. It just shows how important it is to build a lead when things are going well for you.
“I’m delighted to go wire-to-wire, especially at this event, I’m over the moon,” Pepperell said after receiving the trophy from host Justin Rose.
Over the moon and inside the top 35.
Didn’t happen overnight, but 24 months sound a bit like a whirl-wind.
And then some.