Sign up for our daily newsletter

Latest news, reviews, analysis and opinion, plus unmissable deals for bunkered subscriptions, events, and our commercial partners.

Richard Bland claims the PGA Tour are not being honest after denying him an exemption onto their senior circuit.

LIV Golf’s Bland won on his debut at the Senior PGA Championship a fortnight ago, carding an eight-under-par final round at Harbor Shores to beat a field that included greats like Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington and Steve Stricker.

The 51-year-old is enjoying one of the game’s finest Indian summers and the emotional £500,000 victory in Michigan was dedicated to his brother Heath, who had been diagnosed with lung cancer just days before the tournament started.

The health struggles of Heath have long focused Bland on the course and the Englishman has been fuelled to lift the spirits of his older sibling, who cheers him on from back home in Southampton.

• Robert MacIntyre defends decision to skip Memorial Tournament

• Tour winner called up for last minute LIV Golf debut

It’s unclear exactly how long Bland intends to keep on competing after earning around £10million in prize money since his first DP World Tour win at the British Masters in 2021, but he has hinted he could retire completely when he eventually drops off the LIV circuit.

What is certain – at least for now – however, is that Bland will not be able to prolong his blossoming career on the PGA Tour-owned Champions Tour.

It was confirmed shortly after his Senior PGA win that Bland would not be granted the traditional exemption as a senior major winner, owing to his contract on the LIV tour.

And Bland’s grumblings about that missed opportunity are not with the ruling itself, but more the way those in the Tour’s corridors of power have handled the matter.

“The PGA Tour are not going to let me play Champions,” he told bunkered. “They’ve stated that after the PGA. Whether that changes in the future, we’ll see. As it stands right now, even if I went and won the US Senior Open in two or three weeks they’re not going to reverse that decision. I know I don’t have a career on the Champions Tour.

“I knew that was going to come but I wish they were just be honest about it. They didn’t even contact me. I read it on social media. They haven’t reached out to me to say: ‘This is the reason why we’re not going to give you an exemption.’

• LIV golfers hit by lost luggage fiasco

• Xander Schauffele slams PGA Tour chief Jay Monahan

“I’m probably the first major champion on the Seniors Tour not to get that – and we all know why. That’s fine, but just be honest. Don’t hide behind the ‘Oh, he won a tournament that’s not run by the PGA Tour.’

“If it was outside of their tour why does Richard Green’s [runner-up to Bland] money count on the Champions money list? Richard Green’s money goes onto the money list. They do recognise it. Just say its because I’m on LIV. That’s fine, I’m not losing any sleep over it, but just be honest.

“If a European guy wins the US Senior Open, – say if Phillip Archer wins it in three weeks time –  he will get an exemption and he will deserve it.”

Bland is back in action this week at LIV Golf Houston, while he also looks set to tee it up at the US Senior Open at the end of the month.

But he was denied an invite to last year’s Senior Open – which is co-sanctioned by the R&A and DP World Tour – and will miss this year’s edition regardless as it clashes with LIV’s event in England.

“Whoever wins the Senior Open at Carnoustie will get an exemption,” Bland added. “Steve Dodd got the exemption, Paul Broadhurst got the exemption when they won – and they deserve it.

“I know why I’m not getting that exemption and that’s okay. That’s fine. Just be honest about it. I’m probably the first senior major champion who hasn’t had an exemption onto the Champions Tour. I guess I’m a bit of a trend-setter in that way.”

author headshot

Ben Parsons joined bunkered as a Content Producer in 2023 and is the man to come to for all of the latest news, across both the professional and amateur games. Formerly of The Mirror and Press Association, he is a member at Halifax Golf Club and is a long-suffering fan of both Manchester United and the Wales rugby team.

More Reads

Image Turnberry green

The bunkered Golf Course Guide - Scotland

Now, with bunkered, you can discover the golf courses Scotland has to offer. Trust us, you will not be disappointed.

Find Courses