Richard Bland On Brink Of Masters Debut Following Westwood Win

After topping his group, Bland will need to defeat Dustin Johnson to book his first appearance at Augusta National

Bland hits a drive
(Image credit: Getty Images )

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.

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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.   

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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 Cradock
Staff Writer

Matt joined Golf Monthly in February 2021 covering weekend news, before also transitioning to equipment and testing. After freelancing for Golf Monthly and The PGA for 18 months, he was offered a full-time position at the company in October 2022 and continues to cover weekend news and social media, as well as help look after Golf Monthly’s many buyers’ guides and equipment reviews.

Taking up the game when he was just seven years of age, Matt made it into his county squad just a year later and continues to play the game at a high standard, with a handicap of around 2-4. To date, his best round came in 2016, where he shot a six-under-par 66 having been seven-under through nine holes. He currently plays at Witney Lakes in Oxfordshire and his favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.

Matt’s current What’s In The Bag?

Driver: Honma TW747, 8.75°

Fairway Wood: TaylorMade Rocketballz Stage 2, 15°, 19°

Hybrid: Adams Super Hybrid, 22°

Irons: Mizuno MP54, 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland 588 RTX 2.0 Tour Satin, 50°, 56°, 60°

Putter: Cleveland TFI 2135 Satin Cero

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x