RICHARD BLAND says football legend Matt Le Tissier was not the only one in floods of tears after his close pal’s historic British Masters victory.
Le Tissier, who has occasionally caddied for lifelong Southampton support Bland, posted an emotional tribute on Twitter after the English golfer claimed his first European Tour title – at the 478th attempt!
Bland, 48, beat Guido Mgilozzi of Italy – who is exactly half his age – in a nerve-wracking play-off at the Belfry to claim the £290,000 first prize, and become the Tour’s oldest first time winner.
Le Tissier’s video message said: “I have never been so nervous watching a play-off. There are not many things in this world that make me cry, Blandy, but you are one of them. That’s amazing. Well done mate.”
Bland said the tears continued when he ‘gatecrashed’ a celebration party he had originally said he would be forced to miss.
He explained: “I was driving another English golfer, Oliver Wilson, from the Belfry to Heathrow so he could catch a flight to the States, and I was telling him there was a party going on at my sister’s house down in Southampton.
“My parents and a load of family and friends celebrating my win, but I’d said I was drained and I’d catch up with them again to celebrate.
“But Olly said I had to go and join them, because this was the perfect opportunity with the European Tour taking a week off as the USPGA is going on, and that I’d regret it if I didn’t go.
“He said when he got his first win he couldn’t really enjoy it as much as he would have liked because he was playing again a few days later.
“So I rang my sister, told her not to tell my parents but that I’d be there some time after 9pm to surprise them. You can imagine the scenes – tears, laughter, back-slapping, the whole lot.
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“I woke up with a bit of a sore head, but it was worth it. This win was a long time coming, and I’m glad I made the most of it.
“I saw Matt’s message, and that brought a lump to my throat too. We’ve been great pals for years – one of the consolations of being a Saints supporter – and he’s caddied for me a few times, from Scotland to Singapore.
“I think he’ll be after a few more shots next time we play now that I’m a European Tour winner. But there’s no chance of that. I’d much rather take his cash. He’s got enough of it!”
As well as a two year exemption on the European Tour, taking him past the age when he will be eligible for the seniors circuit, Bland can look forward to another bonus – a spot in next month’s US Open.
The British Masters was the first in a series of three qualifying events for Torrey Pines. The top ten money earners at the end of European Open on June 6 will earn spots in the Major championship line-up.
And Bland has already earned enough to start booking his flight to California.