Pepperell takes lead, Fleetwood slumps at British Masters
WALTON HEATH, England (AP) — Eddie Pepperell moved into a three-stroke clubhouse lead and Tommy Fleetwood lost ground at the British Masters on Friday after a second round when only three players shot in the 60s at windy Walton Heath.
World No. 2 Justin Rose made it through to the weekend but was 10 strokes off the pace as he seeks a top-two finish to reclaim his place atop the rankings.
Twenty players were yet to finish their second rounds when play was suspended because of darkness.
Pepperell, who was alongside Fleetwood in a four-way share of the first-round lead, followed up a 67 with a 3-under 69 and was the only player in the 124-man field to shoot two rounds under 70. He was on 8-under overall.
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Having made a hole-in-one on Thursday, Pepperell added to his highlight reel by chipping in at the par-4 third hole for one of his five birdies on Friday.
The nearest challengers to Pepperell, who won the Qatar Masters this year and nearly made it into Europe’s Ryder Cup team, were Matt Wallace (72) and Julien Guerrier, who was 3 under after 15 holes of his second round when play was suspended.
Wallace, who was among the overnight leaders and is a three-time winner on the European Tour this season, said he was playing “with a heavy heart” following the death of his grandmother on Thursday.
“I’m playing for her,” he said.
Fleetwood had five bogeys and didn’t make a birdie in a 5-over 77 — 10 strokes worse than his first-round score. Starting at No. 10, he dropped a shot at three of his first four holes and again at his eighth hole as sideways winds made scoring difficult.
“I just had a nightmare on the greens really. I actually played all right,” said Fleetwood. “I basically three-putted Nos. 11, 12 and 13 and literally had no idea what the break was going to do or the wind. I never once got it right.”
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Fleetwood was tied for 21st, eight shots behind Pepperell, and only 13 players shot worse than him on Friday.
Rose, who is hosting the tournament this week, was forced to cancel his pre-event media commitments because of a stomach bug and opened with a 74 that left him fighting to make the cut.
He was just above the cut mark when he bogeyed No. 10 for his third dropped shot of the day, but birdied the next and parred his way home for a 72 that ensured he’ll be around for the weekend.
Francesco Molinari, the European Ryder Cup star who leads the Race to Dubai standings, was in a tie for 43rd with Rose after two rounds of 73.
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