"Bland" Golf Atop U.S. Open Leaderboard

2021 U.S. Open / Torrey Pines / 2nd Round

US Open 2021 – Bland

Round 1, Round 3, Round 4

SAN DIEGO, CA.  It’s been said a golf ball does not know how old one is and never could that be truer than the term of events that have happened in the last two major championships. Several weeks ago, Phil Mickelson captured the PGA Championship, becoming the oldest winner of a major championship at 50.

US Open 2021 R2 - "Bland" Golf Atop U.S. Open Leaderboard"
Richard Bland tees off on the eighth hole (Chris Keane/USGA)

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Now, after 36 holes have been played — a 48-year-old Englishman — with the apt last name of “Bland” — shares the halfway mark lead in the 121st U.S. Open.  Richard Bland’s play has been anything but “bland” golf, thus far. 

Both Mickelson and Bland were ranked 115th in the world at the start of the aforementioned major championships. An interesting coincidence or karma resurfacing?

US Open 2021 – Bland

Incredibly, Bland is playing in the U.S. for just the second time and his fourth major championship. What’s remarkable — is the perseverance and patience the Englishman has shown throughout his entire journeyman career. He made 478 starts on the European Tour before becoming the oldest first-time winner last month at the Betfred British Masters.

Only Malcolm MacKenzie had played more European Tour events (509) before winning his maiden title.

US Open 2021 – Bland

Bland arrived in San Diego courtesy of that win and a third-place finish in Denmark. 

He now sits atop the leaderboard with the USA’s Russell Henley at five-under-par (137) — one shot clear of Matthew Wolff also from the USA and South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen.

Bland followed-up his first round 71 with seven birdies in his second round Friday.

US Open 2021 – Bland

It was just two years ago, at age 46, that Bland missed so many 36-hole cuts that he was demoted to the Challenge Tour, the minor league circuit of the European Tour. But he never gave up and ignored the signs that he might be washed up. He still believed that he could regain his form and eventually win, and he did just that.

“What am I going to do, go and get an office job? I’m not that intelligent, I’m afraid,” he said. “The old saying is you get knocked down seven times, you get up eight. I’ve always had that kind of attitude that you just keep going. You never know in this game, you just keep going.”

US Open 2021 R2 - "Bland" Golf Atop U.S. Open Leaderboard"
Richard Bland tees off on the 12th hole (Darren Carroll/USGA)

US Open 2021 – Bland

Given the focus of today’s star players to have personal trainers in bolstering their golf performance the Englishman wryly stated he would, “Give those gym-goers a run for their money.”

He doesn’t even have a sponsor for his ball cap, sporting the logo of his home club, The Wisley Club in Woking, England, which gave him 10 hats to wear this week.

One can only imagine the companies that may be reach out to him with 36 holes to play.

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Torrey stories / 2nd round overview

  • Seventy-one professionals survived the 36-hole cut, which came at 4-over 146, and will play two more rounds this weekend.
  • Co-leader Russell Henley has played in 26 major championships in his career — has never finished in the top ten in any of them.

US Open 2021 – Bland

  • Co-leader Richard Bland is the oldest-player (48) in U.S. Open history to have the lead going into the final 36 holes.
  • Five of the last seven U.S. Opens have been won by the 36-hole leader.
  • When heading into Kiawah for the PGA Championship — now 51-year-old Phil Mickelson was ranked 115th in the world. Co-leader 48-year-old Richard Brand is ranked 115th coming into this week’s U.S. Open.
  • Thirty-six players, including 18-hole co-leader Louis Oosthuizen, completed Round 1 on Friday morning due to a 90-minute fog delay Thursday morning.

US Open 2021 – Bland

  • Seven of the nine U.S. Open champions in the field made the cut, including defending champ Bryson DeChambeau and two-time winner Brooks Koepka, both of whom are at even-par 142. Rory McIlroy (143), Dustin Johnson (144), Gary Woodland (145), Martin Kaymer (145) and Jordan Spieth (146) round out the group.
  • Hometown favorite and six-time runner-up Phil Mickelson rebounded from a disappointing 75 with a 2-under 69 to make the cut. The two other San Diego natives in the field, Xander Schauffele (140) and Charley Hoffman (143), also will play the weekend, with the former just three strokes off the lead. Schauffele has finished no worse than a tie for sixth in his four previous U.S. Open starts.
  • Besides Bland, three other players shot 67 to match Henley’s low round of the championship from Thursday: Bubba Watson, Mackenzie Hughes and 2020 PGA champion Collin Morikawa.

US Open 2021 – Bland

  • Chez Reavie had the only bogey-free round on Friday, going eight strokes better than Thursday with a 3-under 68.
  • Among the notables to miss the cut were past champions Justin Rose and Webb Simpson, 2020 U.S. Amateur champion Tyler Strafaci, and two of his 2021 USA Walker Cup teammates, Cole Hammer and Pierceson Coody.
  • Of the 19 golfers who made it to Torrey Pines via local and final qualifying, only Air Force Academy graduate Kyle Westmoreland (2-over 144) made the cut.

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