LIV Golf's Richard Bland Makes Flying Start In Senior Major Debut

Richard Bland made a flying start to his first senior Major after grabbing a share of the lead at the Senior PGA Championship

Richard Bland
(Image credit: Getty Images)

On his senior Major debut, Richard Bland took full advantage of his special invite by shooting a first-round 64 to tie the lead after day one of the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.

The Englishman carded five birdies and an eagle in his seven-under round to share the first-round lead with Australian Richard Green at Harbor Shores in Michigan.

Bland is benefiting from a mid-season break in the LIV Golf schedule to tee it up at the Senior PGA Championship.

He's able to compete at the tournament thanks to a one-time exemption granted to players who have turned 50 and who have won a DP World Tour event in the last five years. Bland won the 2021 British Masters. 

And 51-year-old Bland is really taking advantage after making an explosive start in his PGA Tour Champions debut.

In a high-quality leaderboard, former Masters champion Mike Weir, former PGA Championship winner KJ Choi and multiple seniors tour winner Steve Stricker are in a tie for third two shots behind.

“It's nice to start the senior career with 7-under," said Bland. "Very happy with the way I played. I drove the ball really well, which is a strength of mine, which you need around here."

Bland says he received an invite to play in last year's event, but was unable to take part due to it clashing with a LIV event, so is happy to be allowed to take that up this year.

Steve Stricker

Defending champion Steve Stricker is just a shot off the lead

(Image credit: Getty Images)

"I got invited last year. Completely out of the blue. I wasn't expecting it," said Bland. "I got an e-mail from Bob Jeffrey. Unfortunately I couldn't play it. Clashed with a LIV event.

"And then when I looked at the schedule this year, I saw that it was a free week, so I kind of reached out and said, look, I appreciated the gesture for the invite. If it could be run to this year I would love to come play."

Bland is currently 24th on the money list with $1.9 million in earnings, which is $700,000 more than PGA Tour Champions leader Steven Alker.

Challenging Bland is Green, who hit every fairway and 17 of 18 greens as he shot his lowest score of the season.

"It was an exceptionally good day. You know, it's a very challenging golf course, and one that can really bite you at times," said Green.

"So the start of the day it was to go out there and treat it with as much respect as possible and play good golf shots, and I was doing that, which was nice. Got off to a great start."

Former Open champions Darren Clarke and Stewart Cink are just a shot further back on five under, alongside former World No.1 Vijay Singh.

Paul Higham

Paul Higham is a sports journalist with over 20 years of experience in covering most major sporting events for both Sky Sports and BBC Sport. He is currently freelance and covers the golf majors on the BBC Sport website.  Highlights over the years include covering that epic Monday finish in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and watching Rory McIlroy produce one of the most dominant Major wins at the 2011 US Open at Congressional. He also writes betting previews and still feels strangely proud of backing Danny Willett when he won the Masters in 2016 - Willett also praised his putting stroke during a media event before the Open at Hoylake. Favourite interviews he's conducted have been with McIlroy, Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn, Rickie Fowler and the enigma that is Victor Dubuisson. A big fan of watching any golf from any tour, sadly he spends more time writing about golf than playing these days with two young children, and as a big fair weather golfer claims playing in shorts is worth at least five shots. Being from Liverpool he loves the likes of Hoylake, Birkdale and the stretch of tracks along England's Golf Coast, but would say his favourite courses played are Kingsbarns and Portrush.