England’s Bland claims senior major title on debut

Richard Bland celebrates with the Senior PGA Championship trophy

England’s Richard Bland marked his first start in a senior event by claiming one of the over-50 game’s five major titles, the Senior PGA Championship.

The 51-year-old, who now plays on the LIV Golf circuit, eagled the 15th on his way to an eight-under-par closing round of 63 for a 17-under total.

He finished three shots clear of Australia’s Richard Green with another Australian, Greg Chalmers, a further shot back at Benton Harbour in Michigan.

Green moved into contention with two eagles on his back nine but Chalmers bogeyed his final three holes when well placed to challenge Bland.

Bland led after the opening two rounds but a third-round 74 saw him slip behind Chalmers and four-time major winner Ernie Els of South Africa.

But he started Sunday’s final round strongly with eight birdies over his first 12 holes and although he bogeyed the 13th, he was boosted by picking up two shots at the 15th.

Els’ closing 70 saw him finish tied-sixth with former Ryder Cup player Chris DiMarco, with defending champion Steve Stricker one shot back and major champions Retief Goosen and Stewart Cink on nine under.

Bland became the oldest first-time winner on the DP World Tour when he won the 2021 British Masters at The Belfry in his 478th start, then joined LIV Golf the following year.

He had not played a senior event – for golfers aged 50 and above – of any kind before this week after having to turn down an invite to last year’s Senior PGA because of a conflict with a LIV event.