Eddie Pepperell opens commanding lead at Sky Sports British Masters
By Keith Jackson at Walton Heath
Last Updated: 13/10/18 5:28pm
Eddie Pepperell maintained his push for a second European Tour win of the season as he opened up a three-shot lead at the halfway stage of the Sky Sports British Masters.
Pepperell coped admirably with the strong breezes that hampered the field at Walton Heath on day two and fired an impressive three-under 69 to close on eight under par.
The Englishman's five-birdie round, which included a sublime chip-in for birdie at the third and a three at the 18th for the second day running, proved enough to earn him a clear lead as the gusty conditions sent scores soaring.
Matt Wallace carded a 72 to remain three adrift of his compatriot, while Julien Guerrier was five under with three to play when play was suspended due to darkness shortly after 6pm - the Frenchman being the only man in the field without a bogey on his card on day two.
Tommy Fleetwood endured a nightmare start to his second round and slipped eight shots off the lead after a 77, while Ryder Cup partner Francesco Molinari made it safely through to the weekend along with tournament host Justin Rose.
But the day belonged to Pepperell, who lit up the tournament with his spectacular hole-in-one at the ninth on Thursday, as he plotted his way confidently around the historic Surrey layout to pull clear of his rivals.
The 27-year-old mixed three birdies with one bogey at 15 to cover the back nine in 34 and, after a good save at the second when he managed to gouge his second out of the heather, Pepperell chipped in from the back of the third green for a bonus birdie.
He was unable to avoid another blemish at the seventh, but he responded with a birdie at the next and holed from six feet to save par at the ninth to set an early clubhouse target that was rarely threatened for the remainder of the day.
WATCH: Shane's super ace
Shane Lowry makes a superb hole-in-one during the second round at Walton Heath
Wallace, who shared the overnight lead with Pepperell and Fleetwood, offset four birdies with as many bogeys as a 72 kept in in the hunt for his fourth win of an outstanding season, and his performance was all the more commendable as he revealed he had learned of the death of his grandmother on Thursday morning.
Jordan Smith surged into contention with an incredible burst of scoring around the turn, making four birdies and an eagle in five holes which swept him to six under before he bogeyed the 14th and 17th to return a 69.
Smith ended the day four adrift of the leader, while Ross Fisher, Sam Horsfield and Andy Sullivan bolstered the English challenge at the right end of the leaderboard as they got to three under, with 2015 champion Matt Fitzpatrick one further back.
Fleetwood bogeyed three of his first four holes and failed to make a single birdie all day as he slipped to level par, while Molinari endured a run of five dropped shots in seven holes before salvaging a 73 to close on two over.
World No 2 Rose looked in danger of missing the cut when he bogeyed his opening hole of the day to slide to three over, but he dug deep to grind out a 72 which ensured his place for the final 36 holes.