Richard Bland dreams of the first victory in the 478th European Tour event at the Betfred British Masters

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Richard Bland dreams of his first win in the 478th European Tour event after earning some of the lead half way at the Betfred British Masters

  • Bland pooled 36 bogey-free holes around the Belfry to take the lead
  • MacIntyre and Hill share the lead seven under par after the second round
  • Pepperell has enjoyed a welcome return to form to be two shots off the lead

Englishman Richard Bland is 48 years old and plays in his 478th event on the European Tour at the Betfred British Masters – and still dares to dream of winning for the first time.

Don’t mind the old cliché of not leading the way. After the no small feat of assembling 36 bogey-free holes around the Belfry to take the lead with Scots Bob MacIntyre and Calum Hill, the Southampton veteran spoke of what it would mean to finally hold up a trophy.

“When you think of the iconic status of this event and location, it would mean all of my Christmas days coming together at once,” he said.

Englishman Richard Bland extends his bogey-free start of the tournament on Thursday

Bland started playing on tour in the last century and while his career has not reached heights in the last twenty years, it is a testament to a long life and persistence.

He has completed three runners-up and 26 top 10s, between nine trips to the qualifying school. There is also no sign that he will be quitting anytime soon, as he outlined plans to compete in the Champions Tour in America once he turns 50.

MacIntyre, who happens to be exactly half Bland’s age, got off to an incredible start to his round with five consecutive birdies, before losing momentum with a ride in the water on the difficult par-4 sixth.

The Oban man then ended as he started, with three birdies in his last five holes for a stunning 66.

Joint Leader Bob MacIntyre enjoys a joke on his way to the 18th green

Joint Leader Bob MacIntyre enjoys a joke on his way to the 18th green

When Eddie Pepperell won this event three years ago, he was placed on the margins of the world’s top 30. Now that he’s 30, he’s out of the top 200, but there are signs he’s on the way back after a long run of lean form.

A 12th place finish in the Canary Islands last week was his best of eight months and a 68th dropped him just two strokes off the lead.

“I’ve benefited from playing a little more lately,” he said.

“My record has shown that I am useless if I am not playing competitively.”

For the second day in a row, tournament host Danny Willett finished poorly, as three bogeys in his last four holes meant a level-par 72, four shots off the pace.

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