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At the U.S. Open, a 48-Year-Old Is in the Hunt

Bland was underselling his perseverance, and the more he talked about his determination through recurring setbacks, the more he seemed to understand the deeper message being sent.

“I think every kind of sportsman or sportswoman, they have that never-die or that never-quit attitude, no matter whether it’s golf or it’s tennis or it’s boxing, whatever it is,” he said. “The old saying is you get knocked down seven times, you get up eight. I’ve always had that kind of attitude that you just keep going. You never know in this game, you just keep going.”

Bland poked fun at the uneven and circuitous path of his golf career.

“Golf is all I know, and even if things got hard there for a while, what was I going to do?” he asked. “I wasn’t going to get an office job. To be honest, I’m not that intelligent. I’ve always been someone that can put my head down and work hard. And I always felt I had the game to compete on the European tour at the highest level. It just took a while to prove that, I guess.”

Bland’s only other appearance in an American golf tournament came in 2009, when he accumulated enough standing in the European rankings to qualify for the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black on Long Island. He shot a nervous 77 in the first round but came back with a par 70 in the second. The rally was not enough to make the cut, but the experience may have served Bland well.

On Friday, he did not shy away from talking about contending for the championship on Sunday in the final round at Torrey Pines.

“I’ve been driving the ball very well for the last six weeks or so, and on this golf course that’s what you have to do to have any success,” Bland said. “If I keep doing what I’ve been doing, I feel like I can still be there on Sunday on the back nine when we finish.”

Bland laughed.

“I know that sounds unbelievable to some, maybe,” he said. “But that would be a proper dream come true.”



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