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After 478 starts, this 48-year-old European Tour journeyman is finally a winner

There was nothing bland about how the Betfred British Masters was gained apart from the winner’s identify.

After 478 begins on the European Tour, Englishman Richard Bland can name himself a champion. He fired a bogey-free 6-under 66 within the remaining spherical on the Belfry in England, beating Italy’s Guido Migliozzi with a par on the primary playoff gap to win the Betfred British Masters.

The 48-year-old grew to become the oldest first-time winner on the European Tour. He had gained as soon as on the Challenge Tour throughout his 25-year professional profession, notched 32 prime 10s on the principle circuit, however the closest he had come to victory was on the 2002 Irish Open. On that event, Bland fell out of a four-way playoff on the second gap.

This time, Bland drained a 25-foot birdie putt on the 72nd gap and pumped his fist in celebration. Then after gathering his ball, he rubbed each arms over his face in disbelief and buried it in his hat to cover his feelings. Years of frustration and anguish poured out of him. But his work was removed from performed.

Migliozzi, 24, helped by taking three putts for par on the par-5 17th, however bounced again to make a par out of a greenside bunker at 18 to tie Bland at 13-under 275. They returned to 18 for the primary playoff gap and it seemed to be benefit Migliozzi, a two-time winner on the circuit, who had the nearer birdie putt. To his chagrin, he gunned his putt 6 toes previous the outlet and missed the comebacker for par. That left Bland with 3 toes to realize a lifetime purpose and he buried it.

Bland, who credited his return to an previous driver for hitting practically each fairway on the Belfry, made just one bogey for the week.

He misplaced his card on the finish of 2018 and needed to return to the Challenge Tour, however he by no means gave up on his dream of profitable on the European Tour.

“What was I going to do for the next three, four years,” he mentioned of accepting his demotion with grace at age 46. “I’m getting fat as it is. It’s only going to get worse.”

In a video name along with his mother and father, Bland requested his mother if she was all proper. “No!” she mentioned by means of tears of pleasure. “I’ve waited for this so long. We’re absolutely proud of you.”

Earlier within the week, an American buddy of Bland’s gave him a easy pep discuss: one shot at a time, one gap at a time. “I had that in my head all day and to make the dream come true,” Bland mentioned. “That’s as far as I went.”

It took him all the way in which to the winner’s circle. At lengthy final.

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