Golf

Richard Bland: Fred Couples leads celebration of ‘inspirational’ oldest first-time winner in European Tour history

Fred Couples said Richard Bland’s victory inspired him and reminded him “why golf is the greatest game”, after the 48-year-old became the oldest first-time winner in European Tour history.

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 on Saturday.

After Migliozzi three-putted from long range, Bland parred the first extra hole at The Belfry to cap an emotional week in which he carded a solitary bogey.

“Today I saw something that inspired me and reminded me of why golf is the greatest game,” Couples posted on Twitter.

Today I saw something that inspired me and reminded me of why golf is the greatest game. Richard Bland who hadnโ€™t won in his previous 478 professional starts wins the #britishmasters in a playoff on the @europeantour. Congrats @blandy73 on the first and wishing you many more!

So happy for you @blandy73 – golf is a such a grind, there are so many ups and downs, but to keep persevering and to finally break through for that 1st European Tour win must feel bloody amazing. Congrats champ ๐Ÿ†

“Richard Bland who hadn’t won in his previous 478 professional starts wins the British Masters in a play-off on the European tour.

“Congrats @blandy73 on the first and wishing you many more!”

Luke Donald said: “So happy for you @blandy73 – golf is a such a grind, there are so many ups and downs, but to keep persevering and to finally break through for that 1st European Tour win must feel bloody amazing. Congrats champ.”

Congratulations @blandy73 ๐Ÿ† @british_masters Champion

What a finish at the @british_masters! So happy to see to @blandy73 get an amazing first @europeantour win at the tender age of 48!!! Well done @Danny_Willett ๐Ÿ‘Š

Bland, who said the lowest point of his career came when he lost his card in 2018, has now set his sights on making it to 500 events.

“It’s probably going to take a few days to sink it,” he said. “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.”

This is everything. Congratulations @blandy73. Long time coming, and the years of struggles makes this win that much more impactful. My heart swells. Love this. So. Much. https://t.co/ukgby04328

Congrats Blandy ๐ŸŽ‰๐Ÿ†๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ‘ @blandy73 @EuropeanTour . Congrats Danny @Danny_Willett also on another great @british_masters edition

@blandy73 a truly wonderful day for you and your supporters. A story of belief, desire and courage. A journey with humps and bumps, ups and downs, but you finally arrived at where you belong. My sincere congratulations.๐Ÿ‘Œ

Iโ€™m so pleased for @blandy73 – unbelievable performance by one of the golden oldies. Youโ€™ve done it. Well done mate – so very deserved ๐Ÿ† @EuropeanTour

Bland’s victory resonated with people from around the world of golf, with Tommy Fleetwood, Christina Kim, Thomas Bjorn, Justin Rose and Eddie Pepperell all paying tribute to the Englishman.

“What a finish at the British Masters!” Fleetwood said. “So happy to see to @blandy73 get an amazing first European tour win at the tender age of 48!!!”

“This is everything,” said Kim. “Congratulations @blandy73. Long time coming, and the years of struggles makes this win that much more impactful. My heart swells. Love this. So. Much.”

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“I’m so pleased for @blandy73 – unbelievable performance by one of the golden oldies,” Bjorn said. “You’ve done it. Well done mate – so very deserved.”

It was not just the world of golf that was happy to see Bland realise his dream.

Stephen Fry said: “If at first you don’t succeed… Richard Bland has just won the British Masters at 48 years old, his first ever win. 478 tournaments as a professional. Everyone on the European Tour cheering him on. Much weeping. Terrific.”

Formula One legend Damon Hill added: “Is this the biggest story in golf since Tiger Woods’ Masters comeback? Probably not, but such a great story. Well done Richard Bland.”

Is this the biggest story in golf since Tiger Woods' Masters comeback? Probably not, but such a great story. Well done Richard Bland. ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿป #golf #richardbland https://t.co/YyZoucAKel

If at first you donโ€™t succeed โ€ฆ @blandy73 Richard Bland has just won the British Masters at 48 years old, his first ever win. 478 tournaments as a professional. Everyone on the European Tour cheering him on. Much weeping. Terrific. And now for the FA Cup. ๐ŸฆŠ

Bland is hoping it will not be another 478 attempts to get his next victory.

“I loved it down the stretch out there,” he said. “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.”

Still canโ€™t quite believe what happened yesterday! But thank you all so much for the messages & support! Guess I got there in the end ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ† I promise Iโ€™ll get round to reading every message. pic.twitter.com/y2DlsaUSrx

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