New coach, red wine help Eddie Pepperell share Qatar Masters lead


A change of coach and a couple of glasses of red wine helped Eddie Pepperell claim a share of the lead after the opening round of the Qatar Masters.

Pepperell fired eight birdies and a solitary bogey to card a seven-under-par 65 at Doha Golf Club, which was matched by fellow Englishman Aaron Rai and France’s Gregory Havret.

Former winner Alvaro Quiros, Italy’s Edoardo Molinari, England’s Oliver Fisher and Germany’s Marcel Schneider were a shot off the pace on a day when unusually calm conditions led to plenty of low scores, with 91 players breaking par.

“I played well and surprised myself really out there,” Pepperell told Sky Sports. “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.

“It’s been pretty nice on the range, although yesterday was a bit of a grind, a bit of a struggle in the afternoon, so I was in my room in my boxers doing some drills last night! I even prepared with a couple of glasses of red wine last night, maybe for the pain, but it was really good.

“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.”

Havret, who was runner-up to Graeme McDowell in the 2010 U.S. Open and has not won since 2008, carded seven birdies in his 65, including six in eight holes from the sixth.

Rai, who won three times on the Challenge Tour in 2017 to gain automatic promotion to the European Tour, recorded five birdies and finished his round in style, with an eagle on the par-5 18th.

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