Eddie Pepperell is surely not the first player to have been driven to drink by nasty Carnoustie but few others will have come out the following day, still hungover, and shot a sub-par round to take the clubhouse lead on the final day of the Open.
It gave him a tentative shot at lifting the Claret Jug but as the more accepted contenders dropped shot after shot, his unorthodox approach of drowning his sorrows before the race was run threatened to prove highly rewarding.
Annoyed with his level par 71 on Saturday, which, when added to his opening rounds of 71 and 70, looked to have relegated him to little more than a bit-part player for the last 18, the 27-year-old Englishman decided that a few glasses of wine were the best option to try to clear his head.
In the short-term it worked and although it was a bit fuzzy the next morning, it did him little harm. “I was a little hungover. I won’t lie. I had too much to drink last night. I was so frustrated yesterday, that today was really, I wouldn’t say a write-off, but I didn’t feel I was in the golf tournament. Whether I shot 69 or 73 today, it wouldn’t have been heartbreaking. But as it happens, I shot 67. So, you know, it’s a funny game.
“I did wake up in the middle of the night not feeling too good. I didn’t really have that much to drink, it’s just that I’m a lightweight.”
But, the more relaxed preparation did seem to help as he picked his way around the Angus links, finding his best round on a day when so many others struggled to cope with the wind and the pressure.
“It depends, honestly, how you feel. I’ve done it all different types of ways in my career, and the next day it’s been anything and everything. So there’s no real rhyme or reason to it. But I like to socialise in the evenings, if I can, and it certainly takes some of the pressure and the sting away from competitive golf.”
Out alongside Phil Mickelson at 11.40am, three hours before overnight leaders Xander Schauffele and Jordan Spieth, the man who finished second at last week’s Scottish Open at Gullane made matters interesting as he used his mental dexterity and penchant for problem-solving to dig out solutions to the various conundrums posed by the high winds and some tricky pin positions and card a four-under-par 67.
The championship total of 279 was enough to keep him in the reckoning until close to 6pm, when countryman Justin Rose birdied the 18th to finally eclipse his clubhouse tally.
By that stage he had already wound up fans, who feared he may have to take part in a play-off, given the way the leaderboard had begun to concertina, with a playful tweet suggesting he was well on his way home to Oxfordshire.
“Well, fantastic two weeks up here in Scotland,” he wrote. “Thirty mins from Tebay and the finest roast dinner on the motorway. See you all somewhere down the road.”
One of the more interesting characters in the sport, the popular blogger is considered a bright and active mind, on and off the course. Tethering that is often a greater challenge than taming tough links courses.
“If you look at my career I’ve always done better on tough courses, especially when it is windy,” Pepperell has said in the past. “That’s not because I play any better. It’s because just about everyone else plays worse. What I mean by that is my game doesn’t vary much.
“When I need to flight a shot a particular way in a strong wind, I hit the shot I would hit if there was no wind. Not many guys do that. But I’m used to doing it and that gives me an edge.”
That was evident for a major part of yesterday’s final round. While past major winners slipped up in the 20mph-plus winds, hungover and close to being an irrelevance, he ended up signing off on the lowest score of the day.
Starting the day on one-under, he quickly found some positive momentum, with birdies at the third, fifth and sixth. Although a bogey at eight temporarily slowed his progress, he steadied things with five pars before sinking a birdie at 14 and picking up another shot on the par-four 17th before wrapping things up with a par.
“I’ve managed my game exceptionally well today because I knew on certain tee shots I wasn’t going to hit a great tee shot, so I played for the rough and I played for missing the bunkers,” Pepperell said. “This course lends itself to that in these conditions. Had this course been wet this week, I wouldn’t have had much joy. But I’ve managed to at least manage my game well enough to post a score now. It’s probably not going to be enough, but it’s decent.”
He was right, and in the end it wasn’t the winning score, but it was solid enough to force him to delay his service station roast dinner until others stepped up to the plate.