RICHARD Bland's hopes of earning a place in the US Open received a boost this morning in the international qualifier at Walton Heath.
The Southampton golfer carded an opening round 67 in the 36-hole event, as he bids to win one of 11 places in the second major championship of the season, at Olympic Club, San Francisco, next month.
Stoneham member Bland was one of six players to shoot that score on the New Course, with four others carding a 66.
The best score on the Old Course this morning was a 67, posted by Alexander Noren and Gregory Bourdy.
The second rounds are taking place this afternoon.
US Open international qualifying scores (after round one):
Old Course(par 72)
67 Alexander Noren (Swe), Gregory Bourdy (Fra)
68 Colin Montgomerie
69 Markus Brier (Aut), Matteo Manassero (Ita)
70 Joel Sjoholm (Swe), Jorge Campillo (Spa), Raphael Jacquelin (Fra), Benjamin Hebert (Fra), Bernd Wiesberger (Aut), Marc Warren
71 Lee Slattery, Ross Fisher, Jeev Milkha Singh (Ind), Marcel Siem (Ger), Gregory Havret (Fra), Romain Wattel (Fra)
72 Robert Coles, Gary Boyd, Shane Lowry, George Murray
73 Ross McGowan, Rhys Davies, Peter Hedblom (Swe), Carlos Del Moral (Spa)
74 Andrew Johnston, Ricardo Santos (Por), Shiv Kapur (Ind)
75 Zhiqun Lam (Sin), Julien Quesne (Fra), Fredrik Andersson Hed (Swe)
76 Scott Hend (Aus), Michael Jonzon (Swe)
77 Richard McEvoy
78 Lorenzo Gagli (Ita)
79 Edoardo Molinari (Ita)
80 Richie Ramsay
New Course (par 72)
66 Sihwan Kim (Kor), Pablo Larrazabal (Spa), George Coetzee (Rsa), Mikko Ilonen (Fin)
67 Matthew Baldwin, Stephen Gallacher, Peter Lawrie, Niclas Fasth (Swe), Jose Maria Olazabal (Spa), Richard Bland
68 Fabrizio Zanotti (Par), Soren Kjeldsen (Den), Darren Fichardt (Rsa), Andrew Dodt (Aus)
69 Andrea Pavan (Ita), Johan Edfors (Swe), Jbe Kruger (Rsa)
70 Sean Whiffin, Thorbjorn Olesen (Den), Chris Wood, Mohammed Siddikur (Ban)
71 Alejandro Canizares (Spa), Oscar Floren (Swe), Tommy Fleetwood
72 Matthew Zions (Aus), Thomas Aiken (Rsa), Marcus Fraser (Aus), Gareth Maybin
73 Gary Murphy, Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (Fra), Anirban Lahiri (Ind), Anton Haig (Rsa), Thomas Levet (Fra), Tom Lewis, Brett Rumford (Aus), Oskar Henningsson (Swe)
74 Rikard Karlberg (Swe), Pelle Edberg (Swe), Himmat Rai (Ind)
75 Simon Khan
76 Scott Jamieson
77 Ian Keenan