Maiden European Tour victory and now the US Open?
At the ripe age of 48 years, 4 months and 17 days Englishman Richard Bland has a sneaky chance of becoming the 2021 US Open Champion at Torrey Pines in San Diego, California. Phil Mickelson showed him the light at Kiawah Island Ocean Course in May where he became the oldest Major winner ever in the history of golf when he lifted the Wanamaker Trophy of the PGA Championship for the second time in his illustrious career. So how does the Englishman fare?
Born in Burton-on-Trent in England on 3 February 1973, the six-footer Richard Bland has had a rather chequered golfing career. The winning of Majors has left a distinct void on his curriculm vitae. Even the Ryder Cup has slipped through his silky fingers. His biggest win so far was the 2021 Betfred British Masters hosted by Danny Willett at the Belfry last May where he won 339,278 euros and 53 cents. It was his first victory on the European Tour – his 478th attempt at triumph on the ET. So how is the mature Mr Bland playing in San Diego? Rather well, actually!
A special invitation by the U.S.G.A. welcolmed the soon-to-be-senior Brit at Torrey Pines. The player has distinctly shown his gratitude by shooting two rounds to 5-under par to get to the top of the world’s third Major. He shares the number one spot with 32-year old Russell Henley from America.
If Bland is successful with this victory, he’ll be following in the footsteps of the last Englishman to win the US Open. Justin Rose won the 2013 tournament at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania.
Bland hangs on to his dream
As I write, Richard Bland might be crying into his golf shoes. I watched the third round of the US Open until nearly midnight last night. Henley got off to a thrilling birdie start only to drop a shot on the second hole. From co-leader he stormed to 6-under par only to slip back to 5-under with playing partner Richard Bland. The match was on.
South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen, aged 38, joined them as co-leader a few holes later. The rest of the field were tucked in tightly behind them on 4-under, 3-under, 2-under and a galaxy on 1-under. Early in the round only 14 players were under par. The extraordinarily tough grass at Torrey Pines, especially around the greens, is producing a few headaches for some of the greatest golfers on the planet. However, this is all about the third round of the US Open. Who is leading now? I’m about to tune in and found out who is on top after 54 holes.
Another mature and ripe Major winner in the US Open would be utterly outstanding. Richard Bland at 48 years, 4 months and 17 days, we will be watching you very closely this evening: “Get in the hole!” And, Richard and his wife Caroline, we wish you a Happy Father’s Day too!
© MAIN PHOTOGRAPH: Richard Bland sets his sights on seizing the 2021 US Open trophy.