Eddie Pepperell retains lead in British Masters; Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood off pace

Golf


Eddie Pepperell will take a three-shot lead into the final round of the British Masters after a one-under 71 Saturday as he looked for his second European Tour title and a likely place in next year’s Masters.

Pepperell was on nine-under 207 at Walton Heath with fellow Englishman Jordan Smith (70), Sweden’s Alexander Bjork (68), American Julian Suri (69) and France’s Julien Guerrier (70) tied for second.

A victory on Sunday would take Pepperell into the world’s top 35 and almost certainly secure a Masters debut in 2019. The top 50 at the end of the year are guaranteed a place in the first major of the year at Augusta National in April.

The 27-year-old Pepperell began the day with a three-shot lead and was four clear when he holed from 14 feet for an eagle on the par-five 11th, with playing partners Smith and Matt Wallace (73) remarkably doing likewise.

Smith also birdied the 12th after Pepperell three-putted and another birdie on the 15th took Smith within two shots of the lead, only for him to immediately drop a shot on the next.

Ryder Cup star Tommy Fleetwood was seven shots off the pace after rebounding from a 77 on Friday with a 70, while Ryder Cup teammate and tournament host Justin Rose was another stroke adrift following a 69.

A top-two finish on Sunday would see Rose reach the top of the world rankings for the second time this season, the 38-year-old having spent two weeks as No. 1 in September.

“That hasn’t actually been on my mind,” Rose said. “It’s going to be tough to get there as I’ve got a lot of points to defend, but I’ve just got to focus on playing well.”



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