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Injured Bland finishes in style
Richard Bland will go under the knife next week after finally securing his European Tour future.
The Stoneham pro earned his playing rights for next year at the weekend, in the season-ending Perth International, writes GORDON SIMPSON.
A strong showing there meant he finished 106th in the order of merit, with the top 110 earning an exemption for next year.
In the end, it was a close-run thing for Bland, who had hoped his card would have been sealed much earlier.
But the 40-year-old had to contend with two significant injuries that halted his progress.
Firstly, Bland missed nearly two months of the season with a double stress fracture in his pelvis, before having to endure a torn meniscus in his right knee over the final weeks of the campaign “I’m pretty relieved,” he said. “It’s been a tough season. I have had some injuries, and the last few months I have been playing with one that has been getting progressively worse.
“It’s no excuse, and I have not used it as one. It was my own fault I was in the position I was.
“But it’s nice that I can go and get my knee fixed now and hopefully come out in 2014 fit and healthy.
“I probably only played three or four events this year where I didn’t have anything wrong with me, so it was a tough season in that respect.”
Bland’s operation means he will probably miss all of the Tour’s opening swing, when it heads to South African and Hong Kong in November and December.
However, he expects to be back in competitive action in January, at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.
“I’ll probably start again in Abu Dhabi, and go to Dubai with Tim (Barter, his coach) probably in early January and do a good, intensive week or ten days with him,” he said. “I’ve just got to play it by ear.”
For now, though, Bland can focus on getting healthy, as well as buying a house with his girlfriend. He can also reflect on a fine performance under pressure at the sharp end of the campaign, with the highlight being his closing round of 65 in the penultimate event of the season, the Portugal Masters.
“I’m very pleased and proud of the way I played the last two weeks when I really needed to,” he said.
“I kind of did it the hard way, which is usually the way with me, but when it came down to it I played the golf I needed to.
“The 65 I shot in the last round in Portugal has probably got to go down as one of the best rounds I have ever played, under the circumstances.
“To play the weekend without dropping a shot is something I am very proud of.”
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