BMW PGA Championship: Richard Bland opens with 67 in front of brother

Richard Bland carded an opening 67 at Wentworth
Richard Bland carded an opening 67 at Wentworth

Richard Bland ended a miserable run of form with a superb opening round in the BMW PGA Championship, but admitted the best news was simply having his brother there to witness it.

Bland, who is still seeking a first European Tour title after playing 432 events, fired six birdies and a solitary bogey in a five-under-par 67 to record his lowest ever round at Wentworth.

And the 45-year-old's brother Heath was among the spectators who saw it after recovering from a life-threatening illness which saw him placed in an induced coma for a month at the end of last year.

"It's going to take some more time but he's on the road to recovery," Bland told Press Association Sport. "We were a close family anyway but this has brought us even closer.

"He thought he had the flu and was just feeling a bit rough, but it turned out he had a virus which stopped his heart and they had to put him in an induced coma. It knocked us for six, especially as it was over Christmas.

"I'm certainly not going to make excuses for my golf but it was not easy, especially at the start of the year, but it certainly puts things into perspective.

Even though I've had a tough time on the course, it's really not that bad."

Bland finished fifth at Wentworth back in 2006 and enjoyed the best year of his career a decade later when seven top-10s saw him finish 28th on the Race to Dubai.

"It would be everything to get a win," Bland added. "If I hang up my boots at the end of my career without one you are always going to look at it as a bit of a disappointment.

"At my age if you can win you get that exemption and it prolongs your career but the standard out here is so high. These guys are getting younger and it's tough to keep up with them."

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