By finishing third on the Road to Mallorca, you could be forgiven for thinking Richard Bland must have tasted victory at least once during the 2019 season.
However Bland, unlike 12 of his fellow graduates, did not secure any silverware on the 2019 Road to Mallorca, which makes his graduation all the more impressive.
The Englishman secured a place on the podium with 142,402 Rankings points, just 4,432 points behind second placed – and two-time winner – Calum Hill.
Bland, who lost his European Tour playing privileges in 2018, teed it up 19 times on the Road to Mallorca and attained a season-high four second place finishes, one third place and two further top tens.
His stroke average of 69.64 was the second best of his career, bettered only in 2003 when he averaged 69.07, and his high performance level throughout 2019 saw him take on the mantle of the Challenge Tour’s Mr Consistent.
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.
“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.”