Eddie Pepperell has taken up Pilates as part of a new health drive he hopes will get him through a European Tour season injury-free for the first time, writes David Pritchard.
The Abingdon golfer is among a star-studded field which includes Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, which starts tomorrow.
It is the first tournament in two months for Pepperell, who turns 25 on Friday.
He has used the winter break productively to make changes to his lifestyle, in response to a back injury which hampered the final weeks of the 2015 season.
“With the injury I played four fewer events,” he said.
“The season was better than the one before but the injury cost me at the end. 
“My body just didn’t feel right – I felt like I had no stamina and strength in my body. 
“I have taken my health and fitness seriously before, but now I want to do so even more. 
“My training has changed, I’ve started doing Pilates to build the core fitness. 
“There’s also nutrition and I have seen somebody on the health front. 
“I wanted to improve my lifestyle to make sure I feel really good in my body for the whole year.”
“I have never done that before.”
Pepperell will also play in Qatar and Dubai over the next fortnight, before a break in his schedule will allow another fitness push.
But the Frilford Heath golfer has also been busy working on his game and thinks the key to a good season will be how he drives. 
He said: “I think I’m on the cusp of moving up a level. The rest of my game is good enough, the driving needs to be better. 
“That’s my big challenge for the season. 
“If I can find consistency off the tee I will have a load of top-ten finishes.”
Pepperell already has one top-ten finish this season, at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa last November.
The result was made surprising by the fact his girlfriend, Jen Rhodes, carried the bag all week, deputising for regular caddy Jamie Herbert, who returns this week.
Pepperell said: “We loved that place. Jamie has four kids and I said don’t worry about it, go home and Jen will caddy for me. 
“There were some funny moments, but it was a nice experience to be out there.
“She got the hang of raking the bunkers – I went in quite a lot of them.”