TPC Sawgrass

I hadn’t snapped a club all year until the Tuesday of Sawgrass during a practice round. I was hitting a 5 iron into the 7th hole and after hitting what was ironically one of my better shots that day, though still not good, I smashed the club into my bag, bending it severely, and then proceeded to throw it Rory McIlroy style into the lake for the alligators to feast on. It was an act of petulance, borne out of frustration. I walked in after my third shot into the par five 9th, waving goodbye to Alex Noren from a distance who I was playing with. I went straight back to my hotel room for a nap.

My first ever shot into the famous 17th hole was on Wednesday during my practice round. It was into a slight breeze and I landed it straight in the water short of the green. It was definitely the most nervous I’ve ever felt in a practice round. Mick, my caddie, managed to better me and hit it to 27 feet. Not quite good enough to win the caddie challenge, but better than his glorified boss. I did joke that thankfully, things could really only get better from that point onwards and I promised Mick, with little confidence, that I would make a two come Thursday… I must be more confident in the future.

Waking up Sunday, turning on the Golf Channel to watch the interminably repetitive yet addictive coverage of the Players Championship, I saw Martin Kaymer dropping on the 1st hole after hitting it into the water hazard off the tee. A hazard that wasn’t in play Thursday and Friday due to the wind direction, now very much was. That first tee shot was probably the most fearsome of the day for me, not only because it was the first shot of the round, but because I know I can hit the necky flare with consummate ease. Thankfully, my necky flare ended up in the bunker.

I would have a hard time remembering a round in my career where my short game was as good as it was yesterday at Sawgrass. What made it quite bizarre was that my short game of late, along with pretty much every other aspect, has been really pretty shit. I thinned a simple 5 yard bunker shot in Mexico 30 yards through the green. These shots unfortunately stay with me longer than I would prefer, so it means during the period of transition from bad to good, I need to ensure I trust my technique beyond what would usually be sufficient. It would appear, that certain aspects of my game can seemingly be pretty awful one week, and surprisingly decent the next. I’ve clearly improved however at competing and trusting my intuition and skill when things do take an upward turn.

It’s hard to describe what standing on the 17th tee at Sawgrass feels like during a practice round, let alone while being in contention to win an event. I had a brief look around walking onto the tee at all the people surrounding the hole, though, I’m far more comfortable looking at the ground when people are cheering me on, so I didn’t take in too much. I generally feel too inadequate to lap up the adulation. At 140 yards to the pin, it’s a pretty nice number for a 9 iron, as the wind was into and from the right. It’s luckily one of those shots where you can’t bail out, which is the reason I could see a career on that hole which includes many birdies, because you’re choices are limited. There’s really not much room for fear. After hitting my 9 iron to 50 feet, I went back to the bag and said to Mick and Lordy (Justin’s caddie), “at least its fucking dry.”

Weirdly, I didn’t think the putt I had was too difficult. The two breaks in the putt were blindingly obvious. I also knew it wasn’t as fast as I remember seeing historically as I’d practiced a similar putt during the practice round. It was a case of reading the last half of the putt first, then picking the apex point, and then fully trusting your feel. Golf under pressure is often simply just trusting your feels. And breathing. Exhale fully. The crowds chanting “EDDIE, EDDIE, EDDIE” after I holed the putt reminded me of a time when I was at school, oh, no it didn’t. It felt strange being the centre of attention on such a massive stage.

The highlight of my unrecognisable fame came in 2015 when I went on Question of Sport. During the walk in entrance, we were told to take in the ovation from the crowd. This would’ve been fine if I’d have had some alcohol beforehand, or indeed, if I got the impression people in the crowd knew who the hell I was.

TPC Sawgrass is so good.

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40 Responses to TPC Sawgrass

  1. When Furyk holed for- 15, was it ‘Oh shit’ or were you sanguine?

  2. JP says:

    Very enjoyable watching you compete this week EP. Here’s hoping for a decent finish at the Masters!

  3. Paul Bence says:

    Well done Eddie … very well deserved …. things come to those who trust in their ability, work hard and maintain patience (not an easy thing to do!). We will keep watching, trusting in your ability and be patient! Continued success and good luck.

  4. Ian Sharp says:

    Despite your welcome modesty or possibly because of it you’re obviously a man for the big occasion. Many congratulations and good dog walking..

  5. Mr Jeremy Gray says:

    Well played Eddie, great to see you holding it together so well.
    Masters next please…

  6. Les Bayliss says:

    A good read , again Eddie, was a pleasure watching you on tv at sawgrass, you played superb, 👍😊🏌️

  7. Nancy Moroli says:

    Been waiting for this post like a little kid in a candy store. You answered the questions that were rattling around in my head while watching you before and after the putt on 17. Thanks. By the way, if your golf game ever leaves you have no fear. Please consider the following professions: stand up comedian, Ensemble actor on SNL with Fleetwood and Friends, journalist. I sure hope you consider writing a book about your life one day. It would be a bestseller. Wishing you continued success at your current profession.

  8. Philip Robinson says:

    We’re happy for your excellent showing at Sawgrass! As always, your introspective revelations are a shining light in the fog of hype and gloss and shallowness that so often pervades the world of sport.

  9. Caddie Fred says:

    I’m always happy to see you score well since I love the fact that you are painstakingly honest about your “demons”. You are a star of your own making and I especially liked the interview after your round. You, just being you, is good for golf and the Tours..
    I hope this will earn you a card on the PGA Tour?
    Cheers from a Swedish fan

  10. David Willis says:

    Great to see you competing with the big boys Eddie- will your dog get a treat when you get home?

  11. Dr James Parkinson says:

    I enjoy reading your reflections almost as much as I enjoy seeing you play well. Good luck in the Masters; I hope its you and Jason Day fighting it out in the final pairing.

  12. Rod Galilee says:

    Eddie, great finish well done. Entertaining blog as always. Reassuring to hear you guys suffer in the same way as you do: i.e. good to bad transition is far quicker than from bad to good. Thanks Rod

  13. Charlie Webb says:

    Reblogged this on and commented:
    I bloody love Eddie Pepperell.

  14. Sharon Stevenson says:

    The crowd loved you, Eddie! We cheered you on from our vantage point on the 17th tee! Keep grinding and playing well! See you in the winner’s circle soon!

  15. Mike says:

    Well done! Your writing gives an authentic and relatable impression of the whole extraordinary experience.

  16. Oh how I wish I was an inadequate as you Eddie. Gripping stuff on TV. Brilliant performance

  17. Frank says:

    Ahhh Eddie you’re a legend, your candidness and honesty is a pretty welcome breath of fresh air in a world gone mad at the moment!!

  18. Rob says:

    WAY TO GO!!!!

  19. Graham Yates says:

    Eddie, Please get rid of that American word “Gotten”, I not sure it’s even in the dictionary.
    Apart from that, a good blog again, and well done at Sawgrass, it was good veiwing.

  20. christine brennan says:

    Awesome Eddie great to see you on top.. love your blog.. Christine..

  21. Paul Sheehan says:

    Nice read as always Eddie, great performance, delighted for you. Inspiration for all us over introspective over thinking types.
    Grerlo

  22. Andy Dutton says:

    Great, great performance, Young’un. Everton and Eddie – perfect Sunday combo. Here’s to Augusta!

  23. Raymond Phillip Wallace Andrews says:

    Love the normal humanity of the golf and blog.Onward and upwards with not too much sideways!

  24. jmwilliams82 says:

    Happy for your Sawgrass success! I am a big fan of yours, golf and social media. Lee Westwood and you are the reason I enjoy watching the European Tour in the mornings here in the States. I won’t push any more deserving kids out of the way, but I will be looking to get you to sign a flag and Barstool Sports golf item for my man room when you visit Memphis for the WGC Fedex St. Jude. Have a blessed one Brother!

  25. Michael Brink says:

    I enjoy watching you on the European Tour, and it’s an added bonus when you play stateside. Thanks for your self-depricating humor, humbleness and insight. Enjoy the puppy cuddles, and here’s to you holding a trophy again soon.

  26. keenan van zile says:

    eddie,
    the battle you have with yourself is greater than the battle you think you have with golf…the fallacy of thinking or interpreting that your game is off one week to the next is reflection of your own internal topsy turvy attitude. Shame! I have just solved your mental game! you can bill me at info@keenanvanzile.com hence my sarcasm and ability to resolve matters like these. now please keep in mind what I do is free athletes of limited beliefs, thinking – this is so important to golfers because golfers are continuing subjecting themselves to a dialogue that has no benefit to allowing themselves to perform optimally…I quiet the dialogue, instill what is needed and stop you from feeling sorry for yourself. What makes a great golfer great is when they can perform optimally not in rythm – …. When you play optimally your mind is silent, at rest – a strategy does not do that nor does learning mental skills – the less conflict within your self allows you perform as you intend to. You see eddie that golf is not as complicated as men & women make it – humans have conditioned themselves to place blame and justify why something is not working out..They don’t know how to acknowledge the logic in each situation & the possibilities that are possible….You see eddie having the perception you do will always allow for hot & cold performances-hence you performed brilliant @sawgrass or maybe that is reflection of what you can really do always?.You don’t know how to tap into the latter i get that – I can help you with that…You see eddie your game is intact always but it is your attitude that blinds you of understanding this. How do you make your attitude support you & align with your game? Imagine what would be possible then?..you have conditioned yourself to believe that because you don’t swing it certain way that signifies you are out of form or don’t have confidence…both false & limited ways of being/thinking…Im not surprised by how well you performed at Sawgrass – you are steady that is your true internal being at play………

  27. nickluton says:

    Well played Eddie, you came very close to winning The Players 2019. While many around you pressed on, taking unnecessary chances, you kept your head and posted a score to beat. Jim and Rory were class acts and rightfully deserved the plaudits. I’ll be cheering for you to win the next one Eddie, keep that attitude, it suits your game. Nick.

  28. Nicholas King says:

    Well done eddie! You blocked me on Twitter about 15 months ago as we disagreed about you taking that final step .winning! The rest is history no grudges here mate well done and will be watching you at southport all the best Nick.

  29. Ingólfur Hreiðarsson says:

    Great performance! Also great writing skills!

  30. If your touch around the golf course ever leaves you, a writing career awaits.

  31. Michael Hovis says:

    Great play at Sawgrass, Eddie. Really happy for you. I live in Austin, Tx and look forward to watching you at the Dell Match Play in two weeks. My fandom comes from my annual visits to Oxford to visit family. I usually stay a month and your brother Joe lets me keep my clubs in the Oxford Club proshop closet and he has always been unfailingly kind and generous to me. I love every minute I spend at that comfy golf course which celebrates what golf really is about – no pretense, no fussiness, just a walk in the lovely park playing a lifetime game that none of us will conquer.

    All of this for 20 pounds in the middle of this ancient town with the Oxford Spires in the background. The casual atmosphere and the cross section of players remind me so much of my beloved Lions Municipal (Muny) in Austin. A course, by the way, that was the first public US course in the South to allow African Americans to play and is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places.

    Thanks for putting up with the “haters” out there and just keep writing. You have a very high percentage of fans who appreciate a well-written unfiltered view of what a top 50 world player really thinks. I know your brother. I’ve met your dad. You have a wonderful family and I think they also share your feeling what while golf is important, it’s not everything. There’s so much more and I see that in your writing. Again, congrats! And the putt on 17 was fantastic given the timing. I made a similar putt today at Muny and said to my playing partner……”Eddie would be proud.” He had no idea of what I was talking about.

  32. I was cheering you on from New Brunswick Canada. Your putt on 17 was truly better than most and it was during that it dropped
    In. Third at TPC and only a shot behind the legendary Jim Furyk and future HOFer Rory, is an incredible accomplishment.
    Congrats again and looking forward to seeing you hoist a trophy real soon!

  33. Clive T says:

    There are so many rankings in golf, in sport. The players with the highest pass completion in football are invariably the centre backs that pass it to one another under no pressure while ‘resting with the ball’. You must be top of the rankings for honesty in golf. And while that is a hugely endearing quality to a ‘follower’ fan like me, you may want to ask yourself if the next step in your development as a major player is a little more self delusion! Rankings are all relative. You are merely confessing to the same insecurities and worries that every player has at every level. In his prime Tiger would hit 2 out of 14 fairways and tell the simpering post-round interviewer ‘I drove it good’. You seem like you managed a ‘miss’ round TPC for 4 days to finish 3rd in the strongest field of the year. It cannot have been much of a miss! Everyone else out there (bar 2) were managing, but not as good as you! Do you really think Rory meant to hit it at the flag on the last or Furyk was planning to walk after his approach there? Golf is so hard to get right that every winner is ‘getting away with it’ a bit in their great weeks. It is just degrees. You simply must have played well last week and the fact that practice didn’t go all that great only means you can get better, more assured, more certain. Self deprecation is not only lovely, it’s a good insurance policy against the next shank. But a little look back at the tape of last week with a really good glass should be worth an evening of quiet self satisfaction that will reset your bar and move you onwards and upwards now. Don’t ever change but maybe don’t show the rest of us quite as much of your club throwing lapses. And don’t remind yourself of them in the process. Self honesty is a good ranking to top but when you come 3rd at the Players you can start to get your head up, wave, enjoy and kid the rest of us you may just know what you’re doing. Great playing. Let me be in awe please.

  34. Rickybaby says:

    Eddie, Eddie, Eddie. Believe! You’re a fucking good golfer. . But more importantly there’s far more to you than yardages and swing planes! And when you get to Augusta have a ball! Enjoy it. And then….who knows? Mr Willett wasn’t too shabby was he?

  35. Phil Lohan says:

    Mate, it is really refreshing to read this. To know that the world’s best have the same weekend feelings and doubts as the weekend club golfer. You played well enough again to realise a decent purse. A good start to a good year (again).

  36. arthurfane1 says:

    Love reading these Eddie – please keep doing it, even when your career reaches even greater heights. Amazing performance at Sawgrass, and great to read all about it 🙂 Good luck for the rest of the season!

  37. Peter wilks says:

    Great read I often use golfs most popular comment which begins f— it when I play hope the rest of the season goes well for you loved your 4 on the last a real pro finish.

  38. Jon says:

    Well Played Eddie! Bring on Augusta next week!

  39. Christine Brennan says:

    Thrilled you made the cut today have fun.

  40. Wayne kenny says:

    Eddie I was buzzing that I Knew someone who’s playing in the master’s now you made the cut now I’m telling everyone you’re my best mate lol. Keep it going fella hope to catch a couple of your tournaments this year

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