Eddie Pepperell landed his first win on the European Tour in February
British Masters second-round leaderboard (Eng unless stated)
-8: E Pepperell; -5: M Wallace, J Guerrier (Fra); -4: J Smith; -3: R Fisher, A Sullivan, S Horsefield, L Bjerregaard, J Suri (US)
Selected others who missed cut: D Willett (+4), O Fisher (+5), L Westwood (+5), L Donald (+7)
England’s Eddie Pepperell feels there is “nothing to be afraid of” as continued fine form helped him lead the British Masters at the halfway stage.
Pepperell shared the round one lead with compatriots Matt Wallace and Tommy Fleetwood on five under but a three-under-par 69 moved him to eight under.
Wallace is tied second with Frenchman Julien Guerrier on five under, while Fleetwood carded a five-over 77.
Fleetwood said he endured a “nightmare” on the greens in windy conditions.
Only 15 of the 124 players left in the field were under par in their second round at Walton Heath, with Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard delivering the best mark of the day, carding five under to move to three under for the tournament.
A handful of players – including Guerrier tied in second – will need to conclude their closing holes from round two on Saturday morning as play was suspended for darkness shortly after 18:00 BST on Friday.
No PGA Tour and no fear for Eddie
Pepperell, who produced a hole-in-one and an eagle in his first round, wiped out two bogeys in round two with five birdies – one courtesy of chipping in from off the green on the third hole.
The Oxford-born player is averaging under 70 strokes per round on the European Tour this season for the first time in his career. A win at the Qatar Masters and a second-place finish at the Scottish Open in July have lifted him to 50th in the world rankings.
He said: “I’m really excited because I do think I can really improve my long game over the weekend and if I can do that then I want to take the mindset of dominating the event, because why shouldn’t I?
“I’ve got to be aggressive, keep trying to play the shots and I don’t think there is anything to be afraid of, for sure.”
A win on Sunday would take Pepperell into the world’s top 35 but he insists he is not keen on following other successful Britons in moving from the European Tour to America’s PGA Tour.
“I’m not interested in playing over there in a full-time capacity for certain,” he added. “I’m really happy where I’m at. I get to see America five, six times a year and I think that’s perfect. And that’s meant as a compliment as much as anything else because I want to enjoy it for what it is.”
Fleetwood said he “played fine” despite struggling to a 77 containing five bogeys and no birdies. A 78 in the third round of the US Open is the only time he has posted a higher score this season.
“I just had a nightmare on the greens really,” he said. “I actually played all right. I basically three-putted 11, 12 and 13 and literally had no idea what the break was going to do or the wind. I never once got it right.
“It was so difficult. I holed my fair share yesterday but I was so far out today on the greens. I can easily think of shots to save and get it round in level par.”