May 16th, 2021
Fairytale win for Bland at Betfred British Masters
Englishman wins at 478th attempt on European Tour
Words: GolfPunk Photography: Getty Images
A journeyman pro who had never won on the European Tour in almost five hundred attempts and been back to qualifying school on numerous occasions was on the brink of winning one of the big ones, the British Masters.
You would need a heart of stone not to be moved by the emotional scenes as Bland holed from some twenty-five feet to birdie the last and take what looked like a commanding lead.
However, nerves started to fray as the sun came out and the teeth were taken out of the final few holes at The Belfry. Bland had played the final holes, including the two reachable par fives in wretched weather. Suddenly the chasing pack seemed to be back in the hunt and about to burst Bland's bubble.
Migliozzi looked like the most likely to snatch victory from Bland. Having stiffed it at the 16th hole for a birdie, to join Bland in the lead, the Italian reached the par five 17th in two. A two-putt birdie and a par at the last was all the young man required to take the biggest win of his career.
Once again the gods seemed to be smiling on Bland as Migliozzi three-putted the 17th and then was wayward off the tee at the last. However, the pendulum swung back as the Italian received a fortunate drop from a plugged lie in the rough and made a remarkable par getting up and down from the greenside bunker.
And so the scene was set for the playoff. Could the 48-year-old Bland gather himself and go again or would Migliozzi unwittingly produce the least popular win since Stewart Cink broke Tom Watson's heart at Turnberry in 2009?
It would be Migliozzi who cracked. Both players found the 18th green on the first extra hole but the 24-year-old from Vicenza took three-putts to bogey and leave Bland a three-foot par putt to complete the fairytale.
“I’ve finally done it,” Bland said after winning the playoff.
“It’s probably going to take a few days to sink in. It's what I've worked for for 20 years. I've had a few close calls and I assume someone up there was looking down on me quite favourably today.”
The victory also puts Bland in a great position for a chance to qualify for the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in June. The top ten aggregate Race to Dubai points earners (not otherwise exempt) at the Betfred British Masters hosted by Danny Willet, Made in HimmerLand presented by FREJA and Porsche European Open will earn a place in the third Major Championship of the year.
Englishman, Dave Coupland came third on twelve-under after holing monster putts on the last two greens for eagle and birdie respectively. Sitting alongside Coupland were Finland's Mikko Korhonen and Poland's Adrian Meronk.
Overnight leader Eddie Pepperell struggled on Sunday and a closing one-over 73 left him on nine-under in a tie for eleventh.
Scotland's Robert MacIntyre started well and held a share of the lead after consecutive birdies on the 2nd and 3rd holes, but the world No forty-five started to struggle and eventually signed for a closing 71 to finish on ten-under in joint eighth.