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SUTTON COLDFIELD, ENGLAND – MAY 15: Richard Bland of England tees off on the eighteenth hole during the Final Round of The Betfred British Masters hosted by Danny Willett at The Belfry on May 15, 2021 in Sutton Coldfield, England. (Photo : Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Can Richard Bland do the impossible? The 48-year-old Englishman, who started this tournament with 400-1 odds to win, skyrocketed to the top of the leaderboard, firing a four-under-par 67 in the second round to grab a share of the lead in the 121st edition of the U.S. Open. It has been a fantastic journey for Bland who’s just appearing in his fourth major championship.
Bland continues fine form
Bland’s golfing career has been fascinating to say the least. He has been a professional since 1996 and qualified for the European Tour with a victory at the 2001 Challenge Tour Grand Final. Bland’s time in the Tour wasn’t rosy, though, as he struggled at times to earn enough prize money to keep his card. Bland persevered and regained his European Tour card in 2004, 2018 and 2019, setting him up for this grand, late twist in his career.
After going winless in his first 477 professional starts, Bland finally managed to break the duck in the 2021 Betfred British Masters back in May. It was a historic win for Bland who became the oldest first-time winner in the history of the European Tour, grabbing the victory in the 478th start of his career.
That victory catapulted him to 134th in the world rankings and more importantly earned him a spot in this year’s U.S. Open. Bland’s career in the majors spanning four decades hasn’t been great, making just three starts with his best finish coming in the 2017 Open Championship where he ended up tied for 22nd.
Bland is making the most of his latest U.S. Open opportunity, grabbing a share of the lead with Russell Henley heading into the weekend. Bland took advantage of ideal morning conditions, carding seven birdies on the South Course. The 48-year-old created more history with his fine play at Torrey Pines as he became the oldest 36-hole leader in U.S. Open history.
Joining Bland in the final pairing on Saturday is Henley who shot a one-under-par 70 in his second round. Henley had an opportunity to grab the solo lead but finished with a three-putt bogey in his closing hole.
Rahm poised to pounce
Former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen and Matthew Wolff finished the second round tied for third, with both golfers at four-under-par. Oosthuizen, who shared the lead after the opening round, failed to get his putter going in Round 2, needing 26 putts to shoot an even-par round. Wolff, on the other hand, continued to impress after taking two months off in the PGA Tour. He shot a three-under-par 68 in the second round to put himself into contention, playing his final 12 holes on the South Course at four-under-par.
Jon Rahm, the betting favorite prior to the start of the U.S. Open, showcased his title credentials in the second round, shooting a 70 to trail by just two shots heading into the weekend. Joining Rahm at three-under-par was two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson who fired a 67 in the second round. He made seven birdies Friday for just his fourth ever score under par in 42 career rounds at the U.S. Open.
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