On Sunday, Richard Bland claimed an emotional first European Tour victory in his 478th appearance on Tour.
The English veteran overcame young Italian Guido Migliozzi in a play-off to win the Betfred British Masters hosted by Danny Willett.
In a dramatic final day at The Belfry, Bland showed incredible bravery twice over to clinch the victory. At the 72nd hole he holed a monster birdie putt to finish 13 under after a six under 66.
Migliozzi had forced a play-off thanks to a four under 68. Bland once again showed his mettle. Having found a tricky lie from his drive in the first play-off hole, the 48-year-old pulled off a stunning five wood approach to leave a makeable two-putt.
Migliozzi, 50 yards further forward on the fairway from his own drive, proceeded to push his second shot to the right of the green. Bland rolled his birdie deftly to within three feet. His Italian counterpart raced his own birdie putt past the hole on the middle tier of the iconic green.
When Migliozzi missed his par putt, Bland knocked in for his four and for a career-defining triumph after numerous near-missed down the years. He moved to 14th in the Race to Dubai Rankings as a result.
The victory puts him in pole position for a chance to earn a place in the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in June. The top ten aggregate Race to Dubai points earners (not otherwise exempt) at the Betfred British Masters hosted by Danny Willet, Made in HimmerLand presented by FREJA and Porsche European Open will earn a place in the third Major Championship of the year.
“That’s what we all work for”
“It’s probably going to take a few days to sink in,” admitted 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”
“I kept telling myself on the last I thought 13 under would be a really good score” Bland continued. “There was maybe two or three guys on 11. Especially if the weather stayed how it was. We played the last three holes in the worst of the weather as well. I thought if it stays like this then the par fives are playing pretty long. They’re not giveaway birdies. To hole that putt on the last, I don’t think I saw it go in. I knew it was in with about a foot to go. I think I turned to the left to celebrate before it had even gone in. I’d have looked silly if it’d missed. Fortunately it went in” said the relieved European Tour winner.
“Finally I can go off that list of most starts without a win. A big incentive for me was that I wanted to get to 500 events, this will allow me to do that, which I’ll be hugely proud of. To play 500 events out here is a pretty good career.”