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Pepperell vows to be the master after leaving Fleetwood trailing

 

By Phil Casey

Eddie Pepperell expressed his intention to "dominate" the British Masters after Ryder Cup star Tommy Fleetwood suffered a nightmare day on the greens at Walton Heath.

Fleetwood and Pepperell were part of a four-way tie for the lead after opening rounds of 67, but while the former slumped to a birdie-free 77 to fall eight shots off the pace, Pepperell's 69 gave him a halfway total of eight under and a three-shot lead over compatriot Matt Wallace.

France's Julien Guerrier was also five under with three holes remaining when play was suspended yesterday evening due to darkness.

"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?" Pepperell said after a round containing five birdies and two bogeys. "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. Get the speed of the greens and hole some putts and it's all going to be rosy but we will see, there's definitely some good players up there who can challenge."

Pepperell won his first European Tour title in Qatar earlier this season and has also recorded two runners-up finishes and tied for sixth in the Open at Carnoustie, despite playing the final round with, by his own admission, a hangover.

"I think I've made quite a big stride mentally the last 18 months," Pepperell said.

Fleetwood said after his 77: "I just had a nightmare on the greens really.

"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."

Irishman Paul Dunne is one under, while tournament host Justin Rose made the cut after a 72 left him on two over par.

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