ORLANDO, Fla. – It was a common question that received an uncommon response.
Thoughts on the round?
“Thoughts?” Eddie Pepperell said, quizzically, before remembering what he was so eager to share.
“Oh, this is the thought.”
He reached down, grabbed his pantleg and started to roll it up.
“You’re going to love this,” he continued.
Moments later, Pepperell was showing off the new pair of Stance socks that he had purchased last week in Austin, Texas.
“I put them on today,” said Pepperell, who wore his newfound lucky socks to the tune of a 4-under 68 Friday at Bay Hill Club & Lodge, where he is in contention, at 4 under and five shots back, in his first Arnold Palmer Invitational.
“Best round of the year and probably a decade for me.”
There was just one problem. The socks each featured the iconic image of Jack Nicklaus making a putt on the 17th hole during his shocking 1986 Masters victory.
“I know, I know,” Pepperell agreed.
After shooting 68 Friday at Arnie’s place, @PepperellEddie rolled up his pantleg to show off Jack’s socks. pic.twitter.com/gU0sJH167F
— Brentley Romine (@BrentleyGC) March 8, 2019
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Rookie move? Yes, but Pepperell certainly meant no disrespect to “The King.” He proved it Thursday.
Pepperell had just walked onto the practice green when he noticed only one hole had a flag in it. Naturally, he pulled it and started his routine. That’s when putting coach Phil Kenyon, who works with several pros, came up to Pepperell and, with a serious tone, said, “Eddie, that’s Arnie’s flag. That has to stay in every year in his memory.”
“I’m like, I think he’s winding me up because I know what it feels like, we have that kind of relationship,” Pepperell said. “And so I made him go put the flag back in.”
Pepperell then went up to Charles Howell III, a longtime Orlando resident and Bay Hill veteran, to confirm.
“I said, ‘Can you just tell me something? Should that flag be in? Is it in memory of Arnie?’” Pepperell recalled. “And he said, ‘No, no, he’s just messing with you.’
“So yeah, that’s a tradition that doesn’t exist.”
Howell III could only chuckle.
“Maybe had I known it was a joke I would’ve said, ‘No, that’s his, leave it in there,’” Howell III said. “Of course, I didn’t really know. It was pretty funny, though, but more than anything I think it shows the respect people have for Arnold Palmer.”
Pepperell, who made six birdies in Friday’s second round (including Nos. 16-18 to cap his first nine), is learning more about Palmer and his legacy by the minute here at Bay Hill.
“Certainly better than my legacy I’ll leave,” he admitted.
Good start. Now, to buy some new socks.