RICHARD Bland’s hopes of retaining his European Tour card have received a boost after he earned an invitation to the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship .

The Stoneham pro, in the midst of a tense battle to earn his playing rights for 2013, looked set to miss out on the big-money event because of his current exemption status.

But, after lobbying the Tour for a place in the field, Bland has been handed one of the coveted invitation spots for the pro-am tournament.

The 39-year-old is currently 121st in the season money list, with a top 115 finish required to guarantee a place on the elite circuit next year.

In reality, the cut-off line will drop a few places lower than that, but Bland will not want to leave anything to chance.

A good week in Scotland for the Southampton -based player, who has shown some encouraging form recently, would go a long way towards cementing a card for 2013 and ensuring that he avoids a trip to qualifying school at the end of the campaign.

Bland kept his eye in last week by travelling to France to play in the latest Challenge Tour event, where he finished in a tie for 11th.

Liphook member Sam Hutsby also played in Toulouse, coming home in joint 37th.