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Golf world stunned by Richard Bland’s 2021 U.S. Open lead

Jun 18, 2021; San Diego, California, USA; Richard Bland plays his shot from the second tee during the second round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines Golf Course. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The 2021 U.S. Open has already seen many of the world’s best golfers struggle at Torrey Pines. Meanwhile, journeyman Richard Bland is emerging as the ultimate Cinderella story.

After a solid score of 70 in the opening round, Bland went out in the morning wave during Friday’s action and absolutely lit it up, carding seven birdies en route to a four-under 67 and the clubhouse lead at five under par.

With conditions expected to firm up as the afternoon unfolds, there’s a good chance Bland will find himself in the final pairing when he tees off this weekend.

Mind you, the 48-year-old only recently won for the first time on the European Tour in his 478th start at the British Masters in May, which vaulted him way up in the Official World Golf Ranking, where he’s currently at No. 115.

Maybe those good vibes and resulting fan support have something to do with Bland’s recent surge in form, which he talked about after Friday’s magical second round, per Golf Central:

It wasn’t long ago that Bland had lost his European Tour card. In May 2019, his ranking fell as low as 1,010th. That’s right. Bland was outside the top 1,000 golfers in the world. Now, he’s leading a world-class field at the U.S. Open.

How bonkers is that? Well, the golf world is all pulling for Bland as he tries to do the impossible and hang on to his lead with so many other excellent players in hot pursuit.

Bland had only made three career major starts before this week, too, so it’s a testament to his perseverance that he’s even gotten to this point.

Richard Bland’s improbable rise to U.S. Open lead lights up Golf Twitter