We tried to activate the crack Grey Goatee Research scrimshankers today, which is to say we interrupted whatever it was they were doing, which might be too much information, if you get my meaning, if you catch my drift. The question seemed reasonable: Who is Richard Bland and what was he doing tied for the lead after seven holes Friday at The Open Championship?
The second half of the question was rhetorical, and thus sneered at by our layabouts, but one of ’em lifted a finger from somewhere to tap the Open app on his smartphone and keyword “Richard Bland.” I could’ve done that.
So anyway: He’s 44 years old, a journeyman and an Englishman playing in his third Open. He’s ranked 145th in the world. His name is the definition of colorless, but his game has some snap to it. A 67 Thursday had him two shots off the lead, and a couple early birdies today pulled him briefly into a tie with Jordan Spieth at 5-under. A double-bogey on 13 in the Royal Birkdale rain took a toll, and he finished the day at 1-under, five shots back of leader Spieth.
Bland will be playing on the weekend, and he deserves to, which is more than I can say for the shirking skivers on my sluggardly research staff. They’ll be around, too, because they won’t go away. Bland might go away, and you’ll forget you ever heard his name. It’s that kind of name.
Spieth sits at -6 heading to the weekend, two shots up on Matt Kuchar and three up on Brooks Koepka and Ian Poulter. He doesn’t look like he’ll cough up a lead on Sunday, but we’ve seen it before. Five major winners are within seven strokes, and then there’s Kuchar, The Nicest Guy Never to Win a Major. He won’t win here, either, and when he doesn’t, remember where you read it.