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senior pga championship

LIV Golf's Richard Bland uses off-week to make senior debut and win Senior PGA Championship

May 26, 2024
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Patrick McDermott

LIV Golf is not bereft of talent, obviously, but Richard Bland, a 51-year-old Englishman and former European Tour journeyman, would seem among the least likely of its members to emerge a major champion in the U.S.

Bland, who had only one victory in a long European Tour career before joining LIV, shot a final-round eight-under-par 63 in cool, wet weather to win the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship on Sunday at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Mich. It was his senior debut.

“I was interested to see that if I brought my game how it would stack up against these guys,” Bland said. “Thankfully, it does.”

Bland’s 72-hole total of 17-under 267 was three better than runner-up Richard Green and four ahead of Greg Chalmers.

He was not even sure he’d be eligible to play in the Senior PGA Championship. At 48, he won the British Masters, which earned him an exemption into the tournament in 2023, but a LIV Golf event was scheduled the same weekend, precluding him from playing. This year, with no LIV event scheduled for the same week, he reached out to the PGA of America, asking if he could play this year, and he received an invitation to do so.

Then he went out and won it.

“Obviously, the British Masters was very special at 48, but this is right up there,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier.”

Bland, the second-round leader, imploded in the third round, citing a faulty putter in posting a three-over 74 that placed him a shot behind co-leaders Chalmers and Ernie Els. In the final round, he putted exceptionally well with the same putter.

“I think I put the fright in my putter,” he said. “I went out on the putting green with a different putter. I putted so poorly yesterday. I brought a different putter with me and kind of scared my gamer, thinking about putting a different putter in there. I’m glad I didn’t.”

Bland was trailing Chalmers by one when they arrived at the par-5 15th hole. Bland eagled the hole, while Chalmers parred it, to take a lead he never relinquished.

“He hit two beautiful shots on the par 5 to six feet above the hole and made it for eagle,” Chalmers aid. “Then the second shot I thought he hit on 16 was world class. To be able to be in that right rough there and turn it into that pin, he won this golf tournament. He played beautiful golf today. He played the best golf and absolutely deserves the trophy.”

The victory earns Bland an exemption into the U.S. Senior Open next month at Newport Country Club in Newport, R.I. He will play two LIV Golf events, in Houston and Nashville, in the run up to the Senior Open.