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Richard Bland will make his full PGA Tour debut this week at the Valero Texas Open, where he is playing on a sponsor exemption. Despite his heroics at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, where he was defeated by Dustin Johnson in the round of 16, the Englishman needs a win to secure a place in the Masters.
Whilst this will be Bland's PGA Tour debut, he has made five Major championship appearances; which are not organised or governed by the Tour. His best finish came in the 2017 Open Championship where he finished T22; twelve strokes behind the winner, Jordan Spieth.
The Englishman put the golfing world on alert last year when he became the oldest 36-hole leader in the history of the US Open. The then-48-year-old opened with rounds of 70 and 67 to share the top spot with Russell Henley. The weekend proved not the be kind with Bland ultimately slipping to a T50 finish. The popular journeyman was riding the crest of a wave after tasting his first DP World Tour success in what was his 478th start at the Belfry just a month prior.
Whilst Bland may not have progressed far enough last week to secure his spot at Augusta, he wasn't downbeat about his performance. Speaking with the Golf Channel, he said: “I would have certainly liked to have got through today to give myself a really good chance at Augusta and make the top 50, it looks like I’m going to just miss out. I needed to beat DJ this morning. It wasn’t to be.
“When I have my best stuff, and I don’t feel like I had my best stuff this week, I can play against these guys,” Bland said. “I can walk away with my head held high. I’m guessing no one was really expecting a 49-year-old rookie to get through the group stages but I did.” Golf romancers will inevitably unite in the hope of a victory in Texas so that Bland does not join the growing list of names missing the Masters.
Looking forward to getting my full @PGATOUR debut underway tomorrow @valerotxopen. Course in great shape. Can’t wait #rookieat49March 30, 2022
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James joined Golf Monthly having previously written for other digital outlets. He is obsessed with all areas of the game – from tournament golf, to history, equipment, technique and travel. He is also an avid collector of memorabilia; with items from the likes of Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods, Francis Ouimet, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Adam Scott and Ernie Els. As well as writing for Golf Monthly, James’ golfing highlight is fist bumping Phil Mickelson on his way to winning the Open Championship at Muirfield in 2013. James grew up on the east coast of England and is the third generation of his golfing family. He now resides in Leeds and is a member of Cobble Hall Golf Club with a handicap index of 1.7. His favourite films are The Legend of Bagger Vance and Tin Cup.
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