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Richard Bland is one win away at the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play from securing his dream first start at The Masters. Standing in his way? 24-time PGA Tour winner, Dustin Johnson.
Bland, 49, produced a resilient final match display against his former England Boys team-mate, Lee Westwood, with Bland holing a stunning 33-foot birdie putt at the par-3 17th to win the match and top his group.
Both Tringale and Kanaya now would move past Blandy in the rankings, so he will need a QF place for sure, at least... #OWGR #DellMatchPlay #TheMastersMarch 25, 2022
It had been an extremely tight match throughout, with Westwood taking the early initiative following a birdie at the par-3 4th. Bland though, fought back, with back-to-back birdies at the next two holes putting him 1-up.
His advantage was doubled on the 9th, before a par at the 11th put the 49-year-old 3-up. However, Westwood is no quitter, and an eagle at the 12th showed that as he closed the advantage back to 2.
A share of holes followed, before Westwood made up yet more ground after a missed par putt from Bland at the par-4 15th. It was the 17th though where Bland dealt the killer blow.
With both men leaving lengthy birdie putts, Bland would step up and roll his in from 33-feet, leaving Westwood an equally lengthy putt to extend the match. The 48-year-old though couldn't convert, leaving Bland to advance through on his Match Play debut.
Buzzing to get through the group stages. Can't wait to get stuck into it again tomorrow #DellMatchplay pic.twitter.com/L57Z7ac0FzMarch 25, 2022
Topping the group that also included Talor Gooch and Major champion, Bryson DeChambeau, Bland will now face 24-time PGA Tour winner, Dustin Johnson, with the American looking in imperious form as he brushed aside all three of his opponents.
In match play, DJ has been ruthless. Not only did he claim five wins from five at the Ryder Cup, but he also defeated Mackenzie Hughes 3&2, Matt Wolff 4&2 and Max Homa 1-up.
For Bland, there has been heavy talk around him making his Masters debut. However, to make that appearance, it appears he will have to beat DJ in the last-16 to make it to Augusta National, with the Englishman sat just outside the world's number 50.
This is crucial for the 49-year-old, as the world's top-50 advance to the Masters at the start of April.
Matt studied Sports Journalism at Southampton Solent University, graduating in 2019. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly and the PGA, he covers all aspects of the game, from Tour news to equipment testing and buyers’ guides. Taking up the game at the age of six, Matt currently holds a handicap of 3 and despite not having a hole in one…yet, he has had two albatrosses. His favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.
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