British Masters: Nick Dougherty on Eddie Pepperell's wind performance
Last Updated: 12/10/18 6:44pm
Nick Dougherty reflects on an impressive display for Eddie Pepperell at Walton Heath and discusses the art of hitting driver off the deck.
Pepperell said after his round that he didn't feel he played any better when it's windy, it's more that other players tend to drop off a bit, and there is something in that.
But in conditions as tough as we've seen here, if you can play and score as well as you would normally, then you are one step ahead of the field for sure.
Eddie is right in that more players will struggle when the wind gets up, and that's what is supposed to happen. But his 69 today is testament to what he can deliver in those circumstances.
He is a very creative player and has all the shots in his locker. Anyone with those attributes, who can work the ball both ways, change the elevation of the ball on certain shots, they're the ones who will prosper.
It's an old-fashioned kind of golf in many ways, and the sort of play you see more rarely in modern times, but Eddie is one of the guys who is equipped to play in all weathers.
We know that he is an excellent ball-striker, and that's just one of his many qualities. Eddie is not afraid to hit the 'right shot' whatever the circumstances, whether that may mean being aggressive or conservative.
He's good at adapting to the elements and is happy to work the ball in either direction, change the flight, and it takes trust and commitment to pull it off.
Eddie has a tremendous belief in his own ability, and I'm looking forward to seeing how he fares over the weekend.
Driver off the deck
We've seen a number of those this week and it's a rare sight in golf these days. But there have been a couple of absolute beauties from Andy Sullivan and Justin Rose, with both of them knocking it close on the sixth.
It's a shot that is so much harder than it was 20 years ago, just purely due to the increased size of the clubface on the modern driver. The centre of gravity is also higher on the clubhead, so when you're hitting it lower on the face, the spin rate goes up, which can be a bad thing.
Generally, it's not an advantage hitting driver from the fairway when the three-woods and hybrids are so hot, you can achieve pretty much the same distance with far more control and far less margin for error.
But in the blustery conditions here, and on a course with firm and fast fairways, then you get a more penetrating ball flight with the driver off the deck and several players have used the conditions to their advantage this week.
I used to hit driver off the deck a lot, as it was one of my strengths. But it's not something that you see much now, and it's not a shot that players often need to hit.
But here it's more relevant to pierce the wind, control the flight, and let the contours and the pace of the ball do the rest. And, in the shots we saw from Sullivan and Rose, they were two perfect examples and very well executed.