After 478 attempts, Richard Bland completes fairytale win at British Masters

Englishman held off Guido Migliozzi in a playoff for emotional victory at the Belfry

Richard Bland celebrates after winning the British Masters at the Belfry. Photo: Tim Goode/PA Wire

Richard Bland celebrates after winning the British Masters at the Belfry. Photo: Tim Goode/PA Wire

 

An emotional Richard Bland defeated Guido Migliozzi in a play-off to win his first European Tour title at the 478th attempt after a dramatic finish to the Betfred British Masters.

Bland parred the first extra hole at The Belfry after Migliozzi three-putted from long range to become the oldest first-time winner in European Tour history.

The 48-year-old had carded a superb final round of 66 to set the clubhouse target on 13 under par, but looked in danger of cruelly being denied victory by the fast-finishing Migliozzi.

Birdies on the 15th and 16th gave Migliozzi a share of the lead and he then found the green in two on the par-five 17th, but missed from five feet for birdie after lipping out from long range for an eagle.

Migliozzi’s tee shot on the 18th plugged in the wet grass on the edge of a bunker but, after receiving a free drop, the 24-year-old hit his approach into a greenside bunker and got up and down to force extra holes.

The players returned to the 18th and it was advantage Migliozzi after a superb drive left him 50 yards closer to the green, but after both players hit indifferent approaches it was Migliozzi who charged his birdie attempt five feet past the hole and missed the return.

Bland, who made just one bogey all week, said: “It’s probably going to take a few days to sink it. 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.

“A big incentive for me this year was to get to 500 events and this will allow me to do that, which I’ll be hugely proud of.”

Bland admitted that the lowest point of his career came when he lost his card in 2018, a situation exacerbated by his brother Heath suffering from a life-threatening illness which saw him placed in an induced coma for a month at the start of the year.

“This is one for him as well,” Bland added. “It took a lot of guts for me to go back to the Challenge Tour at 46 years old when you’re probably old enough to be most of the guys’ father.

“I wasn’t there to make friends — although I did and it was great — but it was purely get your head down, get the job down and back to where I felt like I belong. I knew there was unfinished business out here and I’m just pleased that I proved I can do it.

“I loved it down the stretch out there. I had a one-shot lead with six holes to play and hit the shots when I needed to and that’s a huge confidence boost going forwards.

“Who knows? Maybe it’s like buses. None come around for ages and then two come along in quick succession.”

Bland plays his second shot on the 18th during the playoff. Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Bland plays his second shot on the 18th during the playoff. Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

England’s Eddie Pepperell had taken a one-shot lead into the final round, but the 2018 champion could only manage a closing 73 to fall back into a tie for 11th with tournament host Danny Willett.

Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre, the top-ranked player in the field, held a share of the lead after birdies on the second and third, but the world number 45 eventually signed for a 71 to finish joint eighth with compatriot Calum Hill and Edoardo Molinari.

MacIntyre admitted he was affected by a stroke of bad luck on the seventh, where his tee shot clattered into the pin and bounced back off the green.

“I kind of got rocked on the par three,” the left-hander said. “You need bits of luck to go your way to win golf tournaments and I seem to see that sort of thing, smashing a pin, happen to me a few times when I’m in contention.

“It was so close to going straight in the cup and it hit right at the bottom of the flag.”

Ireland’s Paul Dunne closed with a one over par round of 73 to finish at one under par in a tie for 52nd while Jonathan Caldwell recovered from a third round 80 to fire a 65 on the final day and finish in a tie for 65th.

British Masters final scores (Gbr & Irl unless stated, Par 72)

275 Richard Bland 68 69 72 66 (Bland won play-off at the first extra hole), Guido Migliozzi (Ita) 68 72 67 68

276 Mikko Korhonen (Fin) 70 71 68 67, Adrian Meronk (Pol) 70 72 65 69, David Coupland 71 69 68 68

277 Dean Burmester (Rsa) 69 73 65 70, Andy Sullivan 69 71 68 69

278 Robert MacIntyre 71 66 70 71, Edoardo Molinari (Ita) 71 72 64 71, Calum Hill 67 70 70 71

279 Danny Willett 69 72 68 70, Chris Wood 69 72 68 70, Eddie Pepperell 70 68 68 73, Renato Paratore (Ita) 73 70 70 66, Matthias Schwab (Aut) 66 75 67 71, Jazz Janewattananond (Tha) 73 69 71 66

280 Jordan Smith 71 69 69 71, Andrew Johnston 71 71 68 70

281 Justin Harding (Rsa) 69 69 70 73, Soeren Kjeldsen (Den) 71 72 69 69

282 Sami Valimaki (Fin) 71 73 70 68, Ashun Wu (Chn) 73 71 66 72, Sam Horsfield 72 70 69 71, Min-Woo Lee (Aus) 75 67 69 71, Julian Suri (USA) 68 74 72 68, Matthieu Pavon (Fra) 68 71 73 70, James Morrison 68 73 72 69, Raphael Jacquelin (Fra) 75 67 69 71, Dale Whitnell 70 74 68 70

283 Alexander Bjoerk (Swe) 73 72 67 71, Julien Guerrier (Fra) 72 66 72 73, Laurie Canter 70 71 71 71, Louis de Jager (Rsa) 68 72 70 73

284 Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) 68 72 72 72, Alexander Levy (Fra) 71 71 72 70, Shubhankar Sharma (Ind) 73 71 71 69, Michael Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 71 74 75 64, Matthew Southgate 72 73 67 72, Clement Sordet (Fra) 68 74 68 74

285 Adrian Otaegui (Spa) 73 71 70 71, Alejandro Canizares (Spa) 71 74 69 71, Aaron Cockerill (Can) 70 73 68 74

286 Sebastian Soederberg (Swe) 73 72 69 72, Adria Arnaus (Spa) 69 72 71 74, Thomas Detry (Bel) 73 72 71 70, Richie Ramsay 70 71 72 73, Ross Fisher 69 74 71 72, Ashley Chesters 73 69 74 70, Ricardo Santos (Por) 73 70 70 73, Cormac Sharvin 73 71 73 69, Sebastian Garcia (Spa) 71 73 69 73

287 Chris Paisley 70 74 73 70, Tapio Pulkkanen (Fin) 72 70 69 76, Paul Dunne (Irl) 72 69 73 73, Jack Senior 72 73 75 67, Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (Fra) 71 73 75 68

288 Thorbjoern Olesen (Den) 71 73 72 72, Joachim B. Hansen (Den) 71 71 77 69, Jamie Donaldson 74 71 74 69, Darius van Driel (Ned) 74 70 70 74, Richard Mansell 69 71 73 75

289 Robin Sciot-Siegrist (Fra) 72 73 71 73, Garrick Porteous 70 74 72 73, Josh Geary (Nzl) 70 72 70 77

290 Gavin Green (Mal) 75 70 72 73, Jonathan Caldwell (NIrl) 76 69 80 65

291 Thomas Bjorn (Den) 72 71 75 73, Joel Stalter (Fra) 69 72 78 72, Lee Slattery 72 68 76 75

292 Johannes Veerman (USA) 71 74 72 75

293 Steven Tiley 74 71 74 74

295 Oliver Wilson 73 72 72 78

302 Ignacio Elvira (Spa) 73 72 77 80

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