Richard Bland Set To Miss Out On Masters Debut

The Englishman jumped to an all-time high in the world rankings but came up three spots short of an automatic Augusta invite

Richard Bland lost against Dustin Johnson in the last 16 of the WGC-Match Play which ultimately left him short of an invite to the Masters
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Richard Bland looks set to miss out on his dream of playing the Masters after coming up just short of the qualifying criteria. The 49-year-old is at an all-time high of 53 in the world rankings, but only the top 50 are invited to participate in Augusta.

The only route open to playing the Masters now is to win this week’s Texas Open, or to receive a special exemption. Bland has taken up an invite to play this week at TPC San Antonio as he tries everything to make the Masters for the first time.

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Bland moved up from World No.60 to 53 in the rankings with his effort at last week’s WGC-Match Play, topping his group ahead of Lee Westwood, Bryson DeChambeau and Talor Gooch, before falling 3&2 to Dustin Johnson in the round of 16. That was good enough to move up seven places, but not the 10 he needed to make the Masters.

Bland’s run at the WGC-Match Play was overshadowed by a Twitter storm caused by a senior writer at Golf Digest questioning whether DJ would even know who his last 16 opponent was. Plenty of pros and journalists took to social media to defend Bland, especially Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnson, who penned a stoic response defending his fellow countryman.

Players who fell on the right side of the top 50 cut off to make the Masters include Seamus Power, who was 48th at the start of last week, and in danger of missing out on the trip to Augusta. He made it to the quarter-finals of the WGC-Match Play - where he lost 3&2 to eventual winner and new World No.1 Scottie Scheffler - enough to secure a first Masters place, with a rise to 41 in the world rankings. Cameron Young started last week in 45th and while he failed to make it out of the group at Austin Country Club, he only dropped two places and therefore will be also invited to the Masters for the first time. Unless granted an exception, Bland will have to go all out to win in San Antonio this week if he is to join them.

Jeff Kimber
Jeff Kimber

Jeff graduated from Leeds University in Business Studies and Media in 1996 and did a post grad in journalism at Sheffield College in 1997. His first jobs were on Slam Dunk (basketball) and Football Monthly magazines, and he's worked for the Sunday Times, Press Association and ESPN. He has faced golfing greats Sam Torrance and Sergio Garcia, but on the poker felt rather than the golf course. Jeff's favourite course played is Sandy Lane in Barbados, which went far better than when he played Matfen Hall in Northumberland, where he crashed the buggy on the way to the 1st tee!