(Reuters) – Eddie Pepperell, helped by an unlikely eagle at the 10th hole, withstood a final-round challenge from Alexander Bjork to clinch victory at the British Masters on Sunday.
Bjork got within one stroke after Pepperell bogeyed the 15th and 16th holes, but the Swede hooked his drive into heather at the last and took bogey on a cold and damp day at Walton Heath in Surrey.
Pepperell got up-and-down from a greenside bunker for par and a two-stroke victory, his second win of the season on the European Tour, after the Qatar Masters.
“It was such a tough day with the conditions. I didn’t swing it very well from the get-go. It was really hard then to find it,” Pepperell said in a greenside interview after carding even-par 72.
He posted a nine-under 279 total.
“It was an absolute grind for four or five hours. It just shows how important it is to build a lead sometimes when things are going well.
“(Winning) wire-to-wire, I’m over the moon.”
The victory was some consolation for Pepperell after he narrowly missed out on making the victorious European team for the Ryder Cup.
Pepperell shared the lead after the first day, and held it alone after subsequent rounds, but found Bjork a tenacious opponent on Sunday.
When Pepperell bogeyed the ninth hole, the 27-year-old’s advantage was only one shot.
He responded by holing out with a nine-iron from rough at the par-four 10th, his ball landing about a foot from the cup before disappearing. The effort gave him a jolt of positive energy and a much-needed cushion.
Australian Lucas Herbert and Englishman Jordan Smith finished four shots behind in equal third, while tournament host Justin Rose came eighth, six shots off the pace.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Pritha Sarkar)