Richard Bland relishing ‘proper US Open test’ on long-awaited return to America
Richard Bland insists he wants to experience a true US Open test at Torrey Pines as he prepares for just his second tournament in America in a 28-year career.
Bland’s victory in the British Masters prompted an outpouring of support on social media, with Fred Couples calling him “inspirational” and comedian Stephen Fry admitting to “much weeping” following the play-off win over Guido Migliozzi.
It also earned the 48-year-old a place at Torrey Pines via a mini order of merit which replaced the annual 36-hole qualifying event from which he earned his place in the 2009 US Open at Bethpage.
“I can’t wait,” Bland told the PA news agency as he waited to board his flight to San Diego.
“Torrey Pines is pretty iconic in US Open history. It’s great to play one of those courses and I’m hoping it’s a proper US Open test – firm, fast, on the knife-edge sort of thing.
“You need to drive it well because if you don’t you know the punishment is going to be severe, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
It would be fair to say that Bland’s second US Open appearance is unlikely to start as badly as his first, when he covered his opening four holes in six over par on the daunting Black course at Bethpage.
“The first nine holes we played in horrible weather, windy, raining,” Bland added. “I started on the 10th and the damage was done in the first five or six holes.
“The last 27 holes I played pretty good and actually shot 70 in the second round. I was on completely the wrong end of the draw that week, but that’s how it goes sometimes.
“It was a great experience, first time playing in America. They know how to put a golf tournament on over there and look after you.
“I’m expecting it to be quite a bit different this week because of Covid, but hopefully it will be nice to play in front of fans again, to have the atmosphere.”
Bland admits he was taken aback by the reaction to his win, which came in his 478th event and two years after he lost his card and had to regain it via the second-tier Challenge Tour.
But it was the messages from ordinary people around the world, rather than celebrities or sports stars, which meant the most.
“The first three or four days after the win were pretty hectic with media and the outpouring on social media, all the messages,” Bland said.
“It was a bit overwhelming really and hard to take in that it was gaining so much traction with people that you never even knew existed or will ever meet.
“I got messages from people all across the globe saying what an inspiration it was to them and that they are going to carry on in their journey now. To read those kind of messages, it’s just something you don’t expect.”
Bland backed up his performance at The Belfry with a tie for third on his next start in Denmark and is hungry for more success, having previously set himself the target of reaching 500 European Tour appearances.
“Now you know you’ve got one win it would be nice to be a multiple winner on the Tour,” he added. “I certainly feel like I’m capable.
“It’s hard to pinpoint what made the difference. I think just a slightly better mindset on the final day, a little bit more focus, getting out of your own way and trying not to think about it too much, thinking, ‘Is this going to be the week?
“I’ve probably put too much emphasis on that in the past and I think that was the one per cent difference.”
Collin Morikawa wins Race to Dubai as Rory McIlroy’s frustrations boil over
The Northern Irishman appeared to rip his shirt open in the recording area behind the 18th green.
Tiger Woods shares footage of him hitting balls as rehab continues
Woods was injured in a car accident in February.
Rory McIlroy takes one-shot lead into final round in Dubai after shooting a 67
England’s Sam Horsfield is just a shot off the lead, one ahead of Scot Robert MacIntyre.
Double bogey on final hole sees Rory McIlroy slip shot off the pace in Dubai
The round one leader is a shot behind Ryder Cup team-mate Shane Lowry, England’s Sam Horsfield and American John Catlin.
I’m on the right path – Rory McIlroy excited about road to next majors challenge
McIlroy is now a combined 148 under par in the £6.6million season-ending DP World Tour Championship.
Open champion Collin Morikawa determined to take chances in Race to Dubai bid
Morikawa had the chance to top the Order of Merit by winning last year’s DP World Tour Championship.
Rory McIlroy unlikely to change schedule despite new-look European Tour
The European Tour will be known as the DP World Tour from the 2022 season but Florida-based McIlroy will continue to focus on the PGA Tour.
Punter’s pointers at the DP World Tour Championship: Course and desert specialists to the fore
It’s the final week of the 2021 European Tour season and the best 50 players of the season are convening at Jumeirah’s Earth Course.
JB Hansen wins AVIV Dubai Championship to claim second European Tour title
The Dane finished a shot clear of Italy’s Francesco Laporta and Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger.