Richard Bland has spiced up U.S. Open leaderboard

SAN DIEGO — There’s nothing bland about this story — apart from the topic’s title.

If you had 48-year-old Englishman Richard Bland in your U.S. Open betting pool as being tied for the 36-hole lead with Russell Henley this week at Torrey Pines, take a bow.

Bland’s efficiency has continued the tough go of late for Father Time, who’s nicely over par in his previous few rounds.

If you thought Phil Mickelson successful the PGA Championship final month at Kiawah Island simply weeks earlier than his 51st birthday to grow to be the oldest participant to win a serious championship was a exceptional story, a U.S. Open triumph by Bland would prime even that on the things-you-never-expected meter.

This is Bland’s fourth profession begin in a serious championship and every one has been in a distinct decade. He’s performed solely as soon as in America, on the 2009 U.S Open at Bethpage Black, the place he missed the lower.

He’s within the discipline this week by advantage of his win on the British Masters final month, his first profession European Tour victory that ended a drought of 477 begins with out hoisting {hardware}.

“To have the lead is fairly particular,’’ Bland mentioned after taking pictures a 4-under 67 to get to 5-under for the match. “I used to be tied for the lead on the 2017 [British] Open for a gap, so it’s good to have it a bit longer than that.’’

Bland’s win on the British Masters was probably the most fashionable within the sport in latest reminiscence primarily based on how lengthy he’d labored to lastly cross the end line first and primarily based on his dogged perseverance after dropping his tour card a few occasions.

Richard Bland
Richard Bland

At age 46, Bland turned the oldest participant ever to graduate from the Challenge Tour to the European Tour.

So, he was understandably emotional after his win, uncooked emotion that elicited response from throughout the game.

“Today I noticed one thing that impressed me and jogged my memory of why golf is the best sport. Congrats @blandy73 on the primary and wishing you a lot extra!’’ Fred Couples tweeted.

“Unbelievable efficiency by one of many golden oldies. You’ve executed it. Well executed mate — so very deserved,’’ European Tour veteran and former Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn tweeted.

“This is every part. Congratulations @blandy73. Long time coming, and the years of struggles makes this win that rather more impactful. My coronary heart swells. Love this. So a lot,’’ LPGA star Christina Kim tweeted.

The reactions from folks Bland didn’t even know have been nearly as overwhelming because the victory itself.

“The first two or three days [following the win] have been a little bit of a blur … the primary 24 hours extra hangover than something,’’ Bland mentioned. “The social media facet of it I wasn’t prepared for, simply getting messages from folks all around the globe … simply saying how impressed they have been by it. That’s one thing I wasn’t anticipating. I’m only a man who’s received a golf match actually, if you boil it down.

“But because it all sunk in, I feel it was simply extra satisfaction than something that I type of received what I’ve all the time wished. I would like extra. Every golfer needs extra.’’

Bland has put himself in place to take extra.

The win, Bland mentioned, “was simply the satisfaction that I saved going, I by no means gave up and I type of received there ultimately.

“You by no means know on this sport. You simply preserve going.’’

If he hadn’t saved going, Bland’s unsure what he would have executed.

“Golf is all I do know,’’ he mentioned. “When occasions received robust and I misplaced my [European Tour] card two or thrice I’d assume, ‘What am I going to do, go and get an office job?’ I’m not that clever, I’m afraid.’’

Before the win, Bland had 32 top-10 finishes on the European Tour, together with a playoff loss on the 2002 Irish Open. He as soon as almost crept inside prime 100 within the Official World Golf Ranking in 2016, getting as excessive as No. 102, earlier than tumbling to outdoors the highest 1,000 in 2019.

His 4 runner-up finishes on the Challenge Tour in 2019 yr helped Bland get again to the European Tour final yr.

One of the various charms about Bland is the very fact he doesn’t actually have a sponsor emblem on his hat as most each participant on this discipline does. The emblem on his hat is from his house membership in England, The Wisley.

“I don’t have a hat deal on the minute, so if anybody is providing …’’ he mentioned with a smile.

After he was completed together with his post-round interviews at that British Masters, Bland was led to a video monitor, the place his mother and father have been on display.

“I’ve been waiting for this for so long,” his mom mentioned.

“You and me both,” Bland responded.

Some issues are well worth the wait.

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