In fact, Pepperell shot a 67, the lowest score of the Open’s final round, and his four-day total of 5 under par was actually enough to take the tournament lead into the clubhouse. That lead would be overtaken by countryman Justin Rose and then by the eventual winner, Italy’s Francesco Molinari, but Pepperell still vaulted 30 spots up the leader board and finished tied for sixth.
Not bad for someone who, as he explained to reporters Sunday after his round, had been so disappointed with his play that he decided there would be no harm spending Saturday evening making a less-than-sober assessment of his chances.
“I was a little hung over. I won’t lie, I had too much to drink last night,” Pepperell said. “I was so frustrated yesterday, that today was really, I wouldn’t say a write-off, but I didn’t feel like 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,” he added. “So, you know, it’s a funny game.”
Peperrell said he went to bed around 11:30 p.m. — “it wasn’t that late” — after having consumed “just some wine” with his coach, which whom he “drowned sorrows.” Asked why he was drinking with his coach, who presumably was there to help with his “performance,” Pepperell pointed to his head and said, “That performance, that’s what matters.”
The world’s 72nd-ranked player, Pepperell said his sense of confidence improved Sunday after he hit the ball well on the driving range, and he added that “playing with Phil [Mickelson]” helped give him “something to go out there with.”
He subsequently said on Twitter, “I wasn’t THAT drunk last night! I remember having a shower and brushing my teeth so I’d say I was fine.”
Eighteen groups teed off after Pepperell and Mickelson, so when he was speaking with the media there was still plenty of action to go at the Open, with several players tied for the lead at 6 under. Thus the possibility, however unlikely, existed at that time that Pepperell might have to summon the strength for a playoff.
“The only hope I have is that it’s Carnoustie, and the last three, four holes, even though they’re downwind, still anything can happen with, obviously, pressure and all that sort of stuff out here,” he said. “So I’ll have to hang around.”
Peperrell then addressed again his unusual final-round preparation, saying, “Listen, I wouldn’t always have a drink the night before. Sometimes I have a few drinks.” He began to add to those thoughts before looking over at a feed of the ongoing tournament.
“Tiger’s minus-seven,” Pepperell noted. “He didn’t have a drink last night, I bet. Proper athlete.”