A rejuvenated Eddie Pepperell enjoyed another positive day at the US Open and admitted that he was “afraid” to hit his driver just three months ago.
Pepperell continued to prosper at Erin Hills as he carded a five-birdie 69 in the third round to move to four under for the tournament, comfortably inside the top 20 heading into the final day.
The Englishman had to endure the daunting European Tour Qualifying School after losing his card last season, and he was again struggling for form until a change of equipment turned his game around.
Pepperell qualified for the second major of the year with two impressive rounds at Walton Heath a fortnight ago, and he then posted his first top-10 finish in over 10 months at the Nordea Masters in Sweden.
“I’ve driven the ball really well here, but I wasn’t hitting driver three months ago on a golf course,” said the popular 26-year-old. “So to have that transition to come to the US Open, face some of those tee shots and not care about what’s out there or when to pull the driver out and hit good tee shots, that’s the thing I can take most pleasure from.
“That wasn’t what I was doing three months ago. I know a couple guys who are in a similar position that I was in a few months ago and they’re in that kind of position now, I feel for them, because I was there, and I was afraid of pulling the driver out.
“So to go out there on that golf course and feel like I can use it to my strength is really nice. The rest of my game is kind of building up around that, I guess. My putting has been a bit better this week as well. I haven’t putted well for a long time. Everything’s been bad. It just seems to be nicely coming back together.”
When asked what led to his upturn in fortunes, Pepperell added: “I’ve changed equipment, that’s been the biggest thing. I have swung the club a bit better, but I’ve stuck new equipment in, new driver in, and the modern equipment.
“My tendency when I get on the golf course is to actually hit a little down on it. I’m comfortable trying to shape it and squeeze it a little bit with the driver. But I had a set-up that was just not allowing me to do that.
“So to come away from my equipment that I was with, and to be able to test and be able to put a club in and ball in play that I believe really benefits the way I like to play golf, that’s made a huge difference.
“Like I said, and I’m not kidding, three months ago if I had come here I would not have broken out, because I would have hit three-woods off the tees. This week I’ve come off really nice.”