Richard Bland To Play First Saudi League Event Despite Threat Of Ban

Richard Bland will play in first Saudi event despite being denied release and threat of ban

Richard Bland looks on
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Richard Bland has revealed that he will play in the first Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series event at Centurion Club next month, despite the threat of suspension from the DP World Tour.

Speaking on BBC Radio Solent, the Englishman said: "I am going to play. If I get banned, I get banned. Most of my career is behind me now as regards playing at the very highest level. I'm 50 years old in six months. I'm a realist. Mother nature does tend to catch up on you. I have an opportunity to play these events and secure my future and I'd be pretty foolish to turn that down." 

The 49-year-old revealed that he requested a release from the DP World Tour but that was shot down. "I haven't been granted the release; I pretty much knew that a couple of weeks ago," he said. "Everybody has their own opinion and are they going to play or not going to play; you can only do what's best for yourself.

"I understand some people might not like that but it's an opportunity for me to make the next stage of my life very comfortable and how can I turn that down?"

The PGA Tour and DP World Tour has continued to threaten players with suspension should they be enticed by the Saudi-backed Series. and that is something Bland is fully aware of and seemingly ready to face.

"That's something I'm prepared to put up with and take on the chin," he said. "We'll see what they are and what the repercussions are. No-one really knows. I've spoken to [DP World Tour Chief Executive] Keith Pelley but he's keeping his cards close to his chest so I don't think anyone really knows."

The LIV Golf Invitational Series will comprise of eight tournaments – seven regular events and a season-closing Team Championship tournament, which will be held at Trump National Doral. Each event will see players compete for a $25m purse, with $4m awarded to the winner. Notably, they are no-cut events so last place will still receive a $120,000 pay cheque. The Team Championship finale carries a whopping $50m purse with separate bonus pools for season-long performance.

Bland hit the headlines last year when he secured his first DP World Tour title at the British Masters in his 478th start. His season included eight top-10 finishes as he posted a career-best 11th in the Race to Dubai rankings. 

Although he narrowly missed out on a dream debut at Augusta National, the Englishman is set to take part in the PGA Championship at Southern Hills this week.

Unlike many that have spoken publicly, Bland remained undeterred about the Saudi Arabia investment that is backing the Series. "I know Anthony Joshua has fought out there, F1's been out there [Saudi Arabia], they don't seem to be getting the bad press that golf's getting," he said. "I know Lee Westwood commented on that at the British Masters and I'm of the same opinion as he is, I don't get why we're getting the rough end of the stick but I'm sure someone will tell me and that's their opinion.

"I plan to play those events. That's the decision I've taken and some people will agree with it and some won't and that's fine."

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.