Bland hopes the wild ride will end with a real trip to Augusta

One more win – against Dustin Johnson – could be enough to put him in the world top 50 to qualify for the Masters

“I don’t really watch a lot of golf at home, but the Masters, I’m there from the first shot to the last putt. I’m not moving,” Bland said. “It’s simply the best tournament to watch on TV and I can only guess it’s a million times better to play in it. So if I get there I think with the 12 months that I had, that would be a nice kind of icing on the cake.

Bland won the British Masters last May aged 48, becoming the first oldest winner in European tour history. That took him to the US Open, where he became the oldest player to share the 36-hole lead before a 77-78 weekend.

This golf world championship was never on his radar until he was a runner-up in the Dubai Desert Classic, placing him 53rd in the world at the end of January, and he held on to enter Match Play.

And then he won a half against Bryson DeChambeau, held off Talor Gooch and beat Westwood for three days to earn a fourth-round berth against Johnson, who won Match Play five years ago and played some of his best golf courses for months. .

Bland is not expected to win. What’s new?

“Oh sure, he’s the favorite,” Bland said. “It’s not being negative or anything like that. It’s just realistic. Everybody knows it. But if I play like I know I can play, I’d like to think he has a game on his hands. So yes, we’ll see. But I have nothing to lose.

Johnson says he knows a little more about Bland and thinks they were paired up somewhere before, he just couldn’t remember where (if any).

“I know it took a while before he got his first win, but yeah, obviously he’s playing well. He’s playing well this week,” Johnson said. “So it’s going to be a tough game. .”

Bland can’t explain how he’s enjoying the fruits of good golf at this point in his life. Only three years ago, he had to spend a year on the Challenge Tour.

“It’s just my time. That’s all I can say. I don’t know why,” he said. “But I will enjoy it while it lasts. I know it won’t last forever. It’s golf. But while it’s here, I’m tired of… it kicks me when I’m down, so while I’m up, I’m going to enjoy it.

As for this Augusta trip, Bland He has played it several times. His brother, Heath, was very ill a few years ago and Bland was invited back with his brother when his health improved. He got better, they made plans, and then the coronavirus pandemic got in the way.

The last cancellation was his fault, which he happily accepts.

“It’s a shame we had to cancel it several times, but we’ll get there,” he said.

Maybe for the Masters. Wouldn’t that be something?

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