Richard Bland had an early morning meeting on Tuesday with the rest of the Cleeks GC. Once it finished, he waited for captain Martin Kaymer to lead the team out the door.

Kaymer, though, insisted that Bland go first.

“He was pushing me out the door,” Bland said.

With good reason. Members of the onsite LIV Golf Andalucia staff, as well as club personnel at Real Club Valderrama, were waiting for Bland just outside the clubhouse for a surprise celebration of his back-to-back senior major victories. He was greeted with Blandy head cutouts, thundersticks, poster boards with slogans (“BLANDEMONIUM ON THE BLANDEPODIUM”) and was gifted a bottle of 2013 Dom Pérignon champagne.

It was a brief but fitting tribute for the 51-year-old Englishman, who is enjoying an impressive run of success the last two months with his Senior PGA Championship and U.S. Senior Open titles, along with the Cleeks’ first-ever team victory at LIV Golf Houston.

No wonder Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” was being piped in via a nearby loudspeaker as he high-fived the staff.

“One thing about LIV, no matter what you do, they make it very special if you do something outside of LIV,” Bland said. “That’s why I love being out here.”

Following his U.S. Senior Open win on the fourth playoff hole at Newport Country Club in Rhode Island, Bland took some much-needed downtime with his family before travelling to Spain for this week’s tournament. He also fulfilled his promise to older brother Heath by giving him the replica of the Senior PGA trophy that the PGA of America had sent him. Bland dedicated his win at Harbor Shores in Michigan to his brother, who is battling cancer.

“It was special to be able to give him that,” Bland said. “I’m sure whenever he looks at it, he’ll look at it with pride. If that’s the case, then I’m a happy man.”

After Bland followed with his victory at the U.S. Senior Open, he said he would keep that second trophy for himself. “The U.S. Open, this one’s mine,” he noted with a smile.

The decisive shot in the playoff against Japan’s Hiroyuki Fujita came from a greenside bunker on the fourth playoff hole, when Bland hit the flagstick and was left with a tap-in for par while Fujita was in the process of making a bogey.

LIV Golf

Bland, who has only seen video of the shot a handful of times, said at the time that his bunker shot wasn’t a difficult one, but he offered a bit more perspective on Tuesday.

“If you’re playing with your friends on a day out, it’s not that tough,” he said. “Obviously the situation makes it together. … To play that shot exactly the way you want to play it is very satisfying.”

Bland would love to continue his winning form this month in the two LIV Golf events, either this week at Valderrama or back home in England on July 26-28 at JCB Golf and Country Club. An original LIV Golf member who has started all 29 events in the league’s brief history, Bland’s best finishes are two T3s, in Bangkok in 2022 and at Greenbrier last year.

Winning a LIV Golf event against a field that includes 14 major champions, including reigning U.S. Open champ Bryson DeChambeau and Valderrama favorites Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia, as well as a bunch of young guns – some of whom aren’t even half his age – poses a significantly different challenge than winning senior-only events, of which he’s one of the younger players.

“To win a LIV event is a whole different kettle of fish, just with the quality of players you’re up against,” Bland said. “You’re going to have unbelievable support this week for Jon and Sergio, and rightly so. If it doesn’t happen this week, maybe at JCB. To do it in front of a home crowd … well, the main thing is if I play well, then hopefully I’ll be there come Sunday.”

Lately, he’s been there on quite a number of Sundays.

Images: Supplied

READ MORE: First Look: LIV Golf Andalucía at Real Club Valderrama