Unlike many in the Class of 2019, Richard Bland is in the twilight of his European Tour career, but that does not mean he is merely happy to make up the numbers.
The Englishman finished third on the Road to Mallorca Rankings following an incredibly consistent campaign which included four runner-up finishes and three further top tens, missing just three cuts in 19 starts.
At 46-years-old, he is the oldest of the current crop of graduates and although he last tasted victory in the 2001 Challenge Tour Grand Final, he believes he still has the game to earn his first European Tour win after securing his return to the top tier.
“Obviously the goal, first and foremost, is always to win,” he said. “I’m not a massive goal-setter. If you play well, everything takes care of itself.
“It’s like this year; I’ve played some great golf on Sunday and not got it done because someone has just played one shot better than me. I won’t say ‘I want so many top tens’ or ‘I want to be this or that’. I just want to play each tournament as it comes, play my best and that’s all you can do.
“I try not to think about it too much. Of course, I want to win, but if I can play the golf I’ve played this year and improve, I’ll have a good season.”
Despite not being able to secure a title in his first European Challenge Tour season since 2008, Bland is proud to have comfortably secured graduation while witnessing some excellent young talent along the way.
“I’m very proud,” he said. “I guess at 46, I’m not supposed to be playing on this tour so to come out with my card – and I’ve had it wrapped up for quite a while now – it’s very satisfying. I’d put this up there with some of my better years on Tour.
“I think I’m proud about just coming back and playing. I think a lot of guys at my age, having played European Tour for quite a while, might not have done it. I’m very proud that I felt I still had the desire and the game to compete on the European Tour and I’m chuffed to bits that I’ve proved that to myself.
“There is some good young talent out here. I’ve played with some really good players this year and they’ve got great futures ahead of them. That was one thing that drove me this year: one poor year does not make you a bad player.
“If one of the years they don’t play that great, that doesn’t mean that you haven’t got a future. Just keep going. If you believe you’re on the right track, just keep going.”
Bland’s respect for the Challenge Tour is clear for all to see and, with 23 years of professional golf under his belt, he has revealed his best piece of advice for the game’s rising stars.
“It’s a great learning curve out here,” he said. “It just gets you set up for Tour life. Try and find out what works for you and what doesn’t work for you.
“That takes time because they’re learning their trade and that’s something I’ve done many, many years ago. I’m in that fortunate situation now where I know what works for me and I know what doesn’t.”