Over the last 18 months Richard Bland has arguably been playing the golf of his life, with victory in his 478th European Tour start, causing a chain reaction of stunning results that have seen him climb into the World's Top-50 for the very first time.
Making his PGA Tour debut at the Valero Texas Open, Bland had produced a fantastic showing at last week's WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, with the Englishman finishing top of his group before losing to Dustin Johnson, 3&2, in the last-16.
Moving to Texas, the 49-year-old gave yet another superb performance and, at one point during the final round, was only two shots back of the leaders. However, three late bogies on his front nine paved the way for a scrappy finish, as he finished in a six-way tie for 29th.
The Confirmation!! #OWGR @blandy73 is #48 in the World!! pic.twitter.com/J93E7SEFABApril 3, 2022
With the top-30 finish though, Bland moves into the World's Top-50 for the very first time in his career, which is seriously impressive considering that, in 2019, he had to earn his European Tour card via qualifying school.
Upon achieving the feat, the Englishman tweeted: "A huge thank you to @valerotxopen & all the staff for this week’s event. To all you Texans for the unbelievable support over the past 2 weeks. Sadly a week to late for my top 50 quest. But feels great to finally get in the top 50 #muchlove." He then also added: "Big thank you to @PGATOUR hopefully you’ll allow me back to play again soon."
A huge thank you to @valerotxopen & all the staff for this week’s event. To all you Texans for the unbelievable support over the past 2 weeks ❤️. Sadly a week to late for my top 50 quest. But feels great to finally get in the top 50 #muchlove❤️ pic.twitter.com/VlSSG9LdQWApril 3, 2022
Unfortunately for Bland, his move into the World's Top-50 comes just a tad late, with the 49-year-old missing out on a dream debut at the Masters by just a matter of weeks.
At the Match Play, after advancing through his group, a number of factors didn't drop in the Englishman's favour, as Bland sat 53rd in the World Rankings at the time. Because he was just outside the Top-50, he would have to defeat Dustin Johnson to secure a spot at his first Masters tournament.
Following the 3&2 defeat though, it left the Englishman needing a victory at the Valero Texas Open to secure the final spot and, although he moved into the Top-50 of the Rankings, tied-29th wasn't good enough, as J.J. Spaun nabbed the final position in the field at Augusta National.
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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
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