Eddie Pepperell didn’t prepare for Thursday’s opening round of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters like most of his competitors. No, he spent Wednesday evening in a T-shirt and gym shorts, hitting Wiffle balls inside of his hotel room. He drank some wine to help relax his body, too.
“Yesterday was a bit of a grind (on the range), a bit of a struggle in the afternoon, so I was in my room in my boxers doing some drills last night,” Pepperell told Sky Sports. “I even prepared with a couple of glasses of red wine last night, maybe for the pain, but it was really good.”
Both seemed to work, as Pepperell shares the first-round lead with Gregory Havret and Aaron Rai at Doha Golf Club after an opening 7-under 65. All three golfers played in calmer morning conditions before wind and rain picked up in the afternoon.
Pepperell, who had missed three straight cuts to begin his European Tour season before tying for 44th in Oman last week, carded eight birdies, including five on the back nine, which he played first. The Englishman credits an improved tee game and work with a new instructor for his strong performance.
“I played well and surprised myself really out there,” Pepperell said. “I made a change this week with personnel, just working on a couple of new things, and I surprised myself with how well I managed to trust it and hit some quality tee shots as well. That’s the area I feel like I’ve been struggling with again a bit lately, but the whole game felt good. It’s always tough to go out onto the golf course and take it out there.
“… This week there’s definitely a feeling of the bigger picture for me than tomorrow, and indeed the weekend. I want to keep working on what I’m working on, go out there, and try do the best I can with it.”
Rai, another Englishman who won three times on the Challenge Tour last year, went bogey-free with five birdies and an eagle on the par-5 18th hole. Havret of France also didn’t card a bogey and made five birdies in six holes beginning on the sixth hole.
Oliver Fisher, Edoardo Molinari, Marcel Schneider and Alvaro Quiros share fourth place at 6 under while former U.S. college standouts Thomas Detry and Sean Crocker are among those at 5 under.