Bland a winner at last – photo Getty Images / European Tour
In one of the really feel-good stories of the European Tour, 48 year old Englishman, Richard Bland, has won his first European Tour title after more than 450 attempts spanning a period of nearly 22 years.
Bland’s only other European win came nearly twenty years ago when he won a Challenge Tour event but today he edged out Guido Migliozzi of Italy to win the Betfred British Masters at the Belfry to break the drought and earn a cheque for €340,000 or $A530,000.
Bland’s first European Tour event was back in 1999 at the Open Championship when Paul Lawrie was successful and in between then and now has been a series of frustrations, having been forced back to the Challenge Tour and Qualifying School on several occasions.
His highest world ranking came in 2016 when he reached 102 in the world but as a result of this win Bland will move inside the top 135
Bland’s bogey free final round of 66 saw him into a playoff against Italy’s Migliozzi before a par at the first extra hole saw him secure the title.
“It’s probably going to take a few days to sink in,” said Bland. “It’s what I’ve worked for for 20 years.
“That’s what we all work for, to win out here and try and prove yourself. I’ve had a few close calls and I assume someone up there was looking down on me quite favourably today. It was just my day.”
Sky Television interviewer, Tim Barter, was on hand to see his close friend and coaching client achieve the milestone, a factor that made the win even more special for Bland.
“To have Tim here. We’ve been together for 20 years. He’s a really close friend of mine, regardless of him being my coach. To have him here on the 18th green with me makes it extra special.
“This is as much his as it is mine, with the work we’ve put in. He’s always believed in me more than I’ve believed in myself, he’s always been telling me that. It’s paid off.”
There has been several low points in the career of Bland but he highlighted one today.
“Losing your card (was a low point). Losing it a couple of years ago. There was a few things going on at home, my brother was ill, so my mind wasn’t on golf for the first four or five months of the year.
“This is one for him as well. It took a lot of guts to go back to the Challenge Tour at 46 years old. You’re probably old enough to be most of the guys’ father. I got my head down, I’m pretty good at that. When I put my mind to something I can just get my head down and go and do it.”
Min Woo Lee finished as the best of the Australasians in the field, the Perth golfer sharing 21st place after an excellent recovery from an opening round of 75.
New Zealand’s Josh Geary also made the cut but finished well back after a final round of 77.
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) May 15, 2021