115th-ranked Richard Bland vaults into U.S. Open lead
Richard Bland, the world's 115th-ranked golfer and 500-1 long shot on the betting board, is tied for the lead after the second round at the U.S. Open.
The 48-year-old Bland put forth an incredible ball-striking performance at Torrey Pines on Friday, flag-hunting on almost every hole en route to a 4-under 67. He sits tied with Russell Henley at 5-under-par for the championship after 36 holes in San Diego.
Phil Mickelson won at Kiawah Island as the then-115th-ranked player just a month ago, but that's where the career similarities stop between the two men. With six career major titles to his name, Mickelson has won more of golf's biggest events than Bland has played in. Lefty also has 45 PGA Tour wins, while Bland captured his first top-tier title in 478 starts in an emotional scene at the British Masters earlier this season.
Additionally, the Englishman's career journey has included eight trips to European Tour qualifying school since 1995. He dropped to the second-tier Challenge Tour in 2019 before regaining his European Tour card the following year.
Bland is succeeding at the lengthy Torrey Pines despite not being able to bomb the ball off the tee. His average driving distance of 285 yards would rank 193rd on the PGA Tour this season.
Bland still faces a monumental task in closing out the job this weekend, but should he do so, he'd supplant Mickelson as the most shocking major champion in recent memory.