England’s Richard Bland claimed his first European Tour title at 48-years old on his 478th attempt, as he beat Guido Migliozzi in a playoff to seal an emotional victory at the 2021 Betfred British Masters.
Bland’s compatriot Dave Coupland, Finland’s Mikko Korhonen and Adrian Meronk of Poland finished one shot back on 12 under, one clear of another Brit in Andy Sullivan and South African Dean Burmester.
The Englishman, who opened with rounds of bogey-free golf (68-69), admitted on Thursday that he had an eye on the Champions Tour but that a win at the iconic event would mean “everything”.
And it did!
Chasing a third-round 72 with a final-round 66, highlighted by a birdie on the 72nd hole, Bland reached 13-under par. He then made par on the first sudden-death hole to claim his first ever European Tour title.
Bland, who made his European Tour debut at the 1998 Open Championship, teed it up in 477 prior events before The Belfry, claiming three runner-ups, two top-3s, and 26 additional top-10s, but never a trophy.
“I’ve done it,” said an emotional Bland to his coach and interviewer Tim Barter. “My game had been trending in the right way and I’d worked really hard, as you know we’ve worked so hard on the wedges.
“I just drove the ball so well this week, I’ve gone back to my old driver.
“Round here – especially for me, I’m not the longest on Tour – I’ve got to hit fairways and I’ve probably missed single digit fairways all week.”
Bland’s story is one of perseverance, even when the odds seemed stacked against him such as losing his tour card in 2018, and having to play the Challenge Tour in 2019. Instead of hanging it up, Bland put his head down, and became the oldest player in history (46) to graduate from the development tour.
“I was 46 at the time: what am I going to do for the next three or four years?,” said Bland. “I’m getting fatter as it is, I’m only going to be getting worse.
“Just get your head down and do the job, no disrespect to the other players, I wasn’t there to make any friends – I did make friends and it was great, but… – it was just purely, get your head down, get the job done and get back to where I felt I belong.”
2021 Betfred British Masters
Top-10 Leaders: Fina Round
Pos-Player-To Par-(Rd 4)
1. Richard Bland -13 (-6)
2. Guido Migliozzi -13 (-4)
3. Mikko Korhonen -12 (-5)
3. Dave Coupland -12 (-4)
3. Arian Meronk -12 (-3)
6. Andy Sullivan -11 (-3)
6. Dean Burmester -11 (-2)
8. Robert MacIntyre -10 (-1)
8. Calum Hill -10 (-1)
8. Eduardo Molinari -10 (-1)
Watch: A Coach & Player. A Dream Finally Realized.
Material from the European Tour Communications was used to compile this report.