Richard Bland will make his 500th DP World Tour appearance when he defends his Betfred British Masters hosted by Danny Willett at The Belfry this week.
The 49-year-old will become the 44th player in European Tour group history to reach the milestone of 500 appearances when he tees it up on the Brabazon Course on Thursday.
Bland won his first professional title at the 2001 Challenge Tour Grand Final, when he secured his first of four graduations from the European Challenge Tour – the most recent of which came in the 2019 season after losing his playing privileges the year prior.
He confirmed up an immediate return to the top tier after finishing third on the Road to Mallorca Rankings and he continued the consistent approach which served him well on the Challenge Tour onto the DP World Tour, missing just five cuts from 21 appearances in 2020.
Then, after 477 appearances without a DP World Tour victory, that elusive triumph arrived at the 2021 Betfred British Masters hosted by Danny Willett at The Belfry.
The Englishman became the oldest first-time winner in DP World Tour history, then aged 48 years and 101 days, when he claimed his maiden title with a play-off victory over Guido Migliozzi at the four-time Ryder Cup venue in what was his 478th appearance.
That victory started a memorable year for Bland, who was given the honour of striking the opening tee shot at The 149th Open at Royal St George’s and then went on to finish the 2021 season a career-high 11th on the Race to Dubai Rankings. His victory at The Belfry helped him to secure only his second appearance at the U.S. Open Championship, 12 years after his first, via the European Qualifying Series.
He came close to his first Rolex Series title at the Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic in January 2022 and despite losing out in a play-off to Norway’s Viktor Hovland, Bland moved inside the top 64 on the Official World Golf Ranking to book his spot in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.
The Englishman almost secured a fairytale maiden appearance at the Masters Tournament but eventually bowed out at the last-16 stage in Texas, finishing in a tie for ninth place, before breaking into the world’s top 50 for the first time the following week, courtesy of a T29 result at the Valero Texas Open on the PGA TOUR.
Keith Pelley, DP World Tour Chief Executive, said: “Today is a special day where we have a special presentation for Richard Bland. Last year was one of the biggest stories in golf worldwide. After 20 years and on his 478th attempt, it was a great display of perseverance when he won the Betfred British Masters for his first victory.
“One year on, you’re back celebrating your 500th event on the DP World Tour and we couldn’t be more excited for you for last year and this year, and I would say you certainly captured the imagination of golf fans worldwide last year.
“Congratulations on making your 500th appearance this week – we have a special salver here that commemorates your incredible achievement. There are only 44 players in the history of the DP World Tour that have played 500 events, so congratulations, Richard.”
Richard Bland, Betfred British Masters defending champion and set to make his 500th appearance this week, said: “It's very special. It's a dream come true. It’s something I had worked on for 20 years and I knew it was getting closer to 500 and so I looked at the schedule, when it would come out, and I kind of knew it would be very close to this week.
“I tweaked my schedule around a little bit and didn’t play here or there to make it this week. So I thought, I’ll make it that even more special and it’s something I'm very, very proud of.”