Number crunching: 'Sense of fear' with driver leads to tumble for Eddie Pepperell

Number crunching: 'Sense of fear' with driver leads to tumble for Eddie Pepperell

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Number crunching: 'Sense of fear' with driver leads to tumble for Eddie Pepperell

(This is the third in a 10-part series examining some of the notable movers up and down in the 2016 Golfweek/Sagarin Ratings.)

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RANKING/MOVEMENT: -523 (No. 145 to 668)

Eddie Pepperell went backwards in 2016. After two good years, the Englishman found himself heading back to Qualifying School to try and regain full European Tour playing rights.

Pepperell finished 49th on the money list in 2014-15 after placing 76th in his rookie season. He sank to 114th this year, two places from keeping his card. He played in 23 tournaments with a best finish of sixth, at the King’s Cup. He also had two eighth-place finishes. However, he missed 12 cuts, including seven of his last eight.

His stats perhaps prove why he fell down the European pecking order. He was nearly a full shot worse per round than in 2015, posting a 72.03 average against 71.27 last year. He was less than 50 percent in fairways hit, 48.92 versus 56.06 last season.

Those aren’t the stats and performances expected of one of England’s most promising youngsters. While peers such as Tyrell Hatton and Andrew Johnston excelled, Pepperell went backwards. It nearly drove Pepperell to despair.

“Unfortunately 2016 has been the year I came to the realization I don’t love this game the way I used to,” he admitted on his regular blog. “I came to that realization because I experienced how difficult the game can be when you lose confidence. I had a sense of fear and dread of not knowing where I was going to hit my driver. I’d never experienced that before.”

He feels he tinkered too much with his swing this year, and is trying to take a simpler approach to the game.

“I’m trying to keep it simple, not trying to do anything complicated. I’m enjoying my practice again because I’m just focusing on one or two things all the time. Therefore my feedback and my parameters are much tighter. There’s much more of a basic understanding between me and my golf than there was six months ago, and I’m looking forward to next year.”

Pepperell, who kept his European Tour card at Q-School with a T-5 finish, is too talented to be outside the European top 50. Look for him to bounce back in 2017.

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