Richard Bland’s magical run at Match Play is over, but his Masters dreams aren’t
AUSTIN, Texas – Richard Bland’s magical run at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play ended Saturday morning, but his quest to play his first Masters remains.
After taking an early 2-up lead in his Sweet 16 match against Dustin Johnson, the 49-year-old played his last 13 holes at 2 over for his first loss this week. Based on various projections, the Englishman needed to beat Johnson and advance to the quarterfinals to earn enough world ranking points to crack the top 50 and an invitation into next month’s Masters.
“I would have certainly liked to have got through today to give myself a really good chance at Augusta and make the top 50, it looks like I’m going to just miss out,” Bland said. “I needed to beat DJ this morning. It wasn’t to be.”
Bland said he expects to be 52nd or 53rd on Monday when the ranking is published, but he has one last chance to earn a spot into his first Masters next week at the Valero Texas Open where he will be playing on a sponsor exemption. He would need to win that event to earn a spot at Augusta National.
Even if he doesn’t make it into the Masters, Bland said his success at Austin Country Club was another boost to his confidence.
“When I have my best stuff, and I don’t feel like I had my best stuff this week, I can play against these guys,” Bland said. “I can walk away with my head held high. I’m guessing no one was really expecting a 49-year-old rookie to get through the group stages but I did.”