SAN DIEGO – As Englishman Richard Bland walked from one media stop to the next after shooting a second-round 67 at the 121st U.S. Open, he smiled and said, “Rory has to do this week in, week out, huh?”
That would be Rory McIlroy, the former World No. 1 and four-time major winner who is one of the faces of golf and usually in demand for the post-round car wash of media obligations. But this week he’s looking up at Bland, a 48-year-old journeyman pro playing in the U.S. for just the second time and his fourth major championship. All of this was new to Bland, who made 478 starts on the European Tour before becoming the oldest first-time winner on the circuit last month at the Betfred British Masters.
That victory combined with a third-place finish in Denmark helped book a spot in the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines and Bland is taking advantage, following up a 1-under 70 on Thursday by carding seven birdies in a round of 67 on the South Course and becoming the surprise clubhouse leader by one stroke over South African Louis Oosthuizen. If it holds up, he will be the oldest 36-hole leader in U.S. Open history.
Confirmed by the @USGA historian staff – at age 48, Richard Bland…