Sunday, February 25, 2018

Steady Eddie leads by three at 

Qatar Masters

Eddie Pepperell produced a flawless front nine of 35 to take a three-shot lead into the closing stages of the 2018 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
The Englishman entered Sunday in a share of the lead with Oliver Fisher but while his countryman dropped three shots on the front nine, Pepperell made eight pars before taking advantage of the ninth to get 17 under.
That left him three shots clear of Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño and Pablo Larrazábal and Italian Renato Paratore.
The Spanish playing partners had both played 11 holes and while Paratore was the man charging on the course, he had just three holes remaining in his final round.
Fisher, South African George Coetzee and Spaniard Adrian Otaegui were then at 13 under.
Pepperell found some brilliant form at the end of 2017, securing four top fives and three top tens from his last ten events but he missed his first two cuts this season before playing the weekend in Malaysia and Oman.
He has been working with a new coach recently as he goes in search of a first European Tour title and was producing a nerveless performance in the Qatari capital.
The tee-times had been moved up due to the threat of bad weather and the rain did come overnight with conditions the toughest they had been all week, although the wind was still relatively light for Doha Golf Club.
Fernandez-Castaño made a birdie on the first and when he added another on the fourth he was up to 13 under and that was a share of second after Sean Crocker dropped a shot on his opener.
Crocker then found sand off the tee on the third to drop to 12 under alongside Otaegui who was moving in the other direction with birdies on the third and seventh.
Fisher had missed a birdie chance on the second while Pepperell was a roll from a gain on the fourth, where Fisher made a bogey after three-putting from 20

A poor tee-shot from Fisher on the next meant he could not get on the green in two and when he failed to get up and down, Pepperell's lead was up to two.
The 27 year old made it a six pars in a row and that was good enough to hand him a three-shot lead as Fisher failed to get on the sixth in regulation and made it three bogeys in a row.
Fisher stopped the rot on the seventh but Crocker - who needs a top ten to play at next week's Tshwane Open - bogeyed the sixth and seventh as he tumbled down the leaderboard.
A poor tee-shot and approach from Fernandez-Castaño saw him surrender a six on the par five tenth and he was replaced at 13 under by Paratore.
The Nordea Masters champion made a hat-trick of birdies from the tenth after turning in 35 to sit three off the lead and then rolled a slippery one down the hill on the 14th to get to 14 under.
Larrazábal had made a single gain on the first on the front nine but played a beautiful second into the tenth for a tap-in eagle and was just two shots off the lead.
Playing partner Fernandez-Castaño bounced back from his bogey with a birdie on the same hole and Otaegui was also 13 under after going birdie-bogey-birdie from the tenth.
Coetzee has three top tens in six appearances at this event and he was making a steady move with back-to-back birdies on the tenth and 11th after an earlier gain on the fourth.
Fernandez-Castaño then chipped in from a tricky lie on the 11th to get within two of the lead but it was soon three as Pepperell broke his run of eight pars with a textbook birdie after laying up on the par five ninth.
Frenchman Grégory Havret, German Sebastian Heisele, Swede Marcus Kinhult and American Han Seung-su were 12 under.




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