Southampton pro in battle to keep European Tour status

RICHARD BLAND

RICHARD BLAND

First published in Sport Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Sports Reporter

Richard Bland is hoping to receive an invite to next month’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship , as he looks to bounce back from the disappointment of the Italian Open.

The Stoneham player had held the lead at the halfway stage of the European Tour event, but ended the week in a tie for 17th after a frustrating final two rounds, writes GORDON SIMPSON.

As well as seeing a maiden Tour victory slip through his fingers, Bland, pictured above, also missed out on an automatic place at the Dunhill Links – the next event on the schedule – after falling out of the top ten.

With the season nearing its climax, the 39-year-old is up to 121st in the money list, requiring a top 115 finish to guarantee his place on the elite circuit next year.

Unfortunately for Bland, his current exemption status means he only has a very limited number of tournaments left.

“I’m probably guaranteed two, but I’m hoping to get into four,” he said. “I’ve asked for an invite into the Dunhill Links. If I can get into that then I feel I have got a really good chance.”

The reality is that the cut-off mark for a Tour card will slide a bit further down than just the top 115 places, but Bland knows he must still add to his season earnings of €146,833 to avoid a trip to qualifying school.

“I’m edging closer, I just need that top five to push me over the line,” he said.

“I’m pretty much right on the mark right now, but obviously the thing that works against me is that some tournaments that are coming up I’m not going to get into.”

After a pair of 66s had put him on 12-under going into the weekend, Bland was only able to pick up one shot on Saturday.

A devastating quadruple bogey at the third hole on Sunday then ruined any remaining chances of victory and also cost him thousands in prize money.

“Time’s running out, and that was a big opportunity that I didn’t take,” said Bland, who will play in this week’s Challenge Tour event, in France, to keep his eye in. “It just leaves a sour taste at the end of the week.”

 

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