The U.S. Open is the last major stop before the PGA Championship, and it’s held at the gorgeous Torrey Pines Invitational Golf Course in La Jolla, CA. The course is famous for its challenging greens, but players on the PGA Tour have been racking up the birdies as well. The 2016 U.S. Open winner, Dustin Johnson, is the only player to break 70 in all four rounds, and he’s the top-ranked player in the world.

It’s a match that’s been 50 years in the making: the last time a U.S. Open was held at Torrey Pines was in 1967, when Johnny Miller beat Ben Hogan by two strokes. Now, a year later, Miller makes his return and faces an even tougher field: Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler.

Of the 156 golfers at the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, 48-year-old Englishman Richard Bland probably wasn’t picked to win by many, if any. After all, this is only his fourth participation in a major championship, and he needed almost a quarter of a century and 478 starts on the European circuit to get his first victory. But when he walked off the course Friday afternoon after a 4-under-par 67 in the second round, he led the leaderboard with 5-under-par after 36 holes, one stroke ahead of first-round leader Russell Henley. Major golf championships have long been full of underdog stories, but if Bland finds a way to win the U.S. Open, his story could be one of the greatest we’ve ever seen.

Richard Bland turned pro in 1996

word-image-11005 word-image-11006 Richard Bland tees off during the first round of the Abu Dhabi 2021 Golf Championship | Andrew Redington/Getty Images Bland, born in 1973 in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England, turned professional in 1996 at the age of 23. The following year he reached the final of the European Tour Qualifying School and was granted permanent status on the Challenge Tour (the European equivalent of the Korn Ferry Tour) for the 1998 season. In 1998, Bland played his first major tournament, qualifying for the Open at Royal Birkdale. After an opening round of 71, he was in a good position to qualify for the weekend, but he played a 78 in the second round and was knocked out of the race. In 2001, Bland earned his first professional victory by winning the Challenge Tour Grand Finals by a margin of five strokes. The victory put him in the top 500 of the world ranking list for the first time and also secured him a permanent place on the European Tour in 2002. He didn’t have his best season, but did play in the Murphy’s Irish Open playoffs (which he lost) and finished second. Over the years, Bland has come close to winning many times, but has been unable to clear the hurdle. He has gone back and forth between the Challenge Tour and the European Tour, but has rarely played well enough to qualify for the majors. He first came to the U.S. in 2009 to play in the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, but again missed the weekend by a score of 77-70. In 2017, Bland competed for the third time in the major, the Open Championship, again at Royal Birkdale, and was two strokes behind the lead after 18 holes with a three-stroke 67. He qualified for the tournament with a round of 72, before shooting a 70-71 over the weekend to finish 22nd.

Bland got his 478th start finally his first victory on the European circuit

. Bland had to return to the Challenge Tour in 2019, but returned to the European Tour in 2020 and finished the year with seventh place or better in two of the last three events. His 2021 career didn’t start out so well: He lost three of his first five starts and finished 35th and 52nd in the other two. But then it happened. In last month’s Betfred British Masters at The Belfry, Bland finally achieved the long-awaited victory after 477 starts and 32 top-10 finishes while wearing number 478. After a 68-69-72 in the first three rounds, he played a 6-under 66 with no bogeys in the final round, made a 25-foot birdie on 72. Hole and finished the match at 13-under. But his day was not yet over as he still had to beat 24-year-old Guido Migliozzi in a play-off, which he did by making par on the first extra hole to secure victory, after which he was understandably emotional. With the win, Bland finished in third place. The Made in Himmerland tournament in Denmark may now go down in history as the U.S. Open.

He will become the oldest U.S. Open winner in history if he can hold off Torrey Pines.

. Bland, playing only in her fourth major, looked very comfortable in her opening round at Torrey Pines, with a 70, minus one, (or as comfortable as she can be at the U.S. Open). And he looked all of on Friday, with seven birdies against three bogeys in the second round and a 4-under-par 67. If he wins this weekend, the 48-year-old, currently 115th in the official world rankings, would become the oldest US Open winner in history and the third oldest Major winner of all time. Phil Mickelson was 50 years, 11 months and 8 days old when he won the PGA Championship last month and Julius Boros was 48 years, 4 months and 18 days old when he won the PGA Championship in 1968. Richard Bland will be 48 years, 4 months and 17 days old on Sunday. COMPARED TO: Who is the lowest ranked golfer to ever win a major championship?

Frequently Asked Questions

How many make the cut at the 2021 US Open?

The U.S. Open is just around the corner and as players from all over the world are preparing to play in the event, you might want to know who is making the cut. The top 128 men and women who have earned a spot in the 2021 U.S. Open will be given an opportunity to compete in front of the world’s best players and fans. This year’s U.S. Open will feature a record number of players and is the largest PGA Tour event in history, with 156 players in the field. The field includes top players from the world’s top 50, with the top four players all ranked in the world’s top 10.

Who made the cut at the 2021 US Open?

The ranks of the U.S. Open are full of surprises, and the top of them may be full of former amateur golfers. The U.S. Open is one of the richest and most prestigious golf tournaments in the world, and even after 72 holes, the competition is wide open. Several of the top-ranked amateur golfers in the world failed to qualify for the Open this year, so we had to look outside the box to find the next best thing. Instead of projecting who we think will win, we decided to project the top 10 amateurs who we believe will make the cut and have a chance to win. Some names are etched in marble at the U.S. Open; some are simply legendary. It takes more than just talent to be a legend, though. To win the U.S. Open, you have to be in the right place at the right time. While the majority of the US Open field — which has included everyone from Jack Nicklaus to Phil Mickelson to Tiger Woods — will be comprised of the usual suspects, there are some names this year that you might not expect.

How did Richard Bland qualify for the US Open?

Despite failing to qualify for the U.S. Open last year, the 20-year-old Richard Bland is once again looking to make history. The former Oklahoma State star shot a 6-under-par 66 on the opening day of qualifying at Phil Mickelson’s infamous Tournament Players Club (TPC), tying the course record and breaking the 24-hole record with a score of 14-under-par. The U.S. Open is a major tournament that is played annually in the United States. This year, the tournament will be held at the iconic Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, CA. Richard Bland, the author of this blog, is one of the players who will be participating in the tournament.

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