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Pepperell happy with first round in the unknown at special course

Usual routine: Eddie Pepperell did not play a practice round
Usual routine: Eddie Pepperell did not play a practice round

By Phil Casey

Eddie Pepperell suffered no ill effects from skipping a "boring" practice round as he carded an opening score of 70 in the 148th Open Championship.

Pepperell, who finished sixth at Carnoustie last year despite famously confessing to feeling hungover during his final round, recorded five birdies and four bogeys at Royal Portrush to finish one under par.

"I was pleased it was okay," the two-time European Tour winner said. "It was actually my first time seeing the course today. So there was a little bit of the unknown.

"It would have been nice to have shot in the 60s but it's not a bad start.

Pepperell, who also did not play a practice round at Carnoustie 12 months ago, added: "I arrived Tuesday evening and I would have gone out yesterday had the weather not been the way it was. Once I saw that I walked it, which is more than I usually do.

"It's not uncommon for me to not play. I've done it certainly in nearly every major I've played. Practice rounds at majors are so long and boring and I can't stand it, so I'd rather not play."

Pepperell, who finished fourth in the Irish Open a fortnight ago and lost a play-off in the same event at Royal County Down in 2015, paid tribute to the sell-out crowd who had braved the wind and rain as Northern Ireland hosted The Open for the first time in 68 years.

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"I think the best crowds in the world probably. They come out in rain or shine, whatever the weather they're out there in numbers.

"And it definitely feels special. The course is special. This is hopefully going to progress to a historic Open. I'm confident it will be. It's really cool to be part of."

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