Bland’s dream of becoming a DP World Tour winner finally came true at the age of 48 and at the 478th attempt in the 2021 BetFred British Masters at The Belfry.
Beating Guido Migliozzi in a play-off made him the oldest first-time champion in Tour history - only Malcom Mackenzie had made more starts before winning – and Bland went on to become the oldest player to lead the US Open at the halfway stage.
Seven more top 10 finishes in Europe followed as he finished a career-high 11th on the “Race to Dubai”.
The search for a title had almost ended back in 2002. Winner of the Challenge Tour Grand Final the previous season, he fired closing rounds of 63 and 67 to be part of a four-way tie for the Murphy’s Irish Open. Dane Soren Hansen won that and it would be eight years before Bland registered his next top-three finish and a further six before he had another.
Then, in 2017, he finished a stroke behind Andres Romero at the BMW International Open, a month later tied for 22nd in what was only his second Open Championship start.