2021 U.S. Open: Inspirational journeyman Richard Bland, 48, leads Transferring Day storylines at Torrey Pines

Richard Bland is an aptronym but maybe not in how you think. The 48-year-old journeyman's journeyman is co-leading the 121st U.S. Open with Russell Henley and trying to one-up Phil Mickelson's victory at the PGA Championship last month since the best 2021 narrative at a major by someone who began playing golf professionally at the 1990s.

2021 U.S. Open: Inspirational journeyman Richard Bland, 48, leads Transferring Day storylines at Torrey Pines

Bland is a fantastic talker and a good game, but his career has been as, well yeah, bland as they come. He's won two over 600 occasions, never about the PGA Tour. He played 477 (! ) ) European Tour occasions before winning for the first time before this season because nobody beats Richard Bland 478 times in a row. This time a couple of years ago, he dropped his card at age 46 and went to the European minor leagues, playing events in places like Slovakia and Finland.

"Golf is all I know," he said of the missing card. "When times got rough and I lost my card a couple of times, I believe,'What am I going to do, go and find an office job?' I am not that intelligent, I am afraid. I've always been someone that can get my head down and work hard, and I always knew I had the game to compete on the European Tour at the maximum level. I have always understood that."

Now he's doing it in an even higher level than that. Bland is the oldest man to lead a U.S. Open in the halfway point since World War II, and he is doing it over the greatest names in sport. Xander Schauffele, Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Collin Morikawa and Justin Thomas are all high on the leaderboard, however Bland is out in front of them all.

His emotional victory at the Betfred British Experts helped him into this occasion, his fourth important as many decades and just the second time he has ever played the weekend (he also did so in the 2017 Open Championship, that Jordan Spieth went on to win).

"As any golf profession, you're going to have peaks and troughs," said Bland. "Of course you are. But I only think every sort of sportsman, sportswoman, they have that never-die or never-quit attitude, no matter whether it is golf or it is tennis or it is boxing, whatever it is. The old saying is you get knocked down seven days, you get up eight. I have always had that sort of mindset that you just keep going. You never know in this match, you just keep going."

It's a fantastic attitude for winning a U.S. Open, too. Bland will certainly be battered this weekend by Torrey Pines and the gathering cadre of superstars surrounding him. It's unlikely he'll withstand it. Of course, the same has been said about Phil Mickelson on a Friday night that this time three weeks ago.

Bland isn't Mickelson, of course, but expect is a crazy thing. Perhaps.

A journeyman's journeyman playing in his fourth important across 25 years looking down in Hall of Famers and legends. His answer when Golf Channel's Damon Hack asked him how he'd keep from thinking about becoming the U.S. Open champion on Friday night or Saturday morning was fantastic because it -- just like the rest of his profession -- was incredibly relatable. In a world where athletes try to narrow away from considering their fantasies too far, Bland isn't too scared to invest in the not too distant future.

"Yeah of course [I'll think about it]," he explained. "It's going to be quite difficult not to do that."

Louis Oosthuizen (-4) requires a minute: The best way I've seen Oosthuizen's career clarified is that he is filled with front-door top 10s. In other words, he fails to finish high in every major, but when he's inside, he's inside . That's true again this week since he began 67-71 and is the most highest-ranked participant in the last two pairings on Saturday. This is not a golf course that strokes me as a Louis Oosthuizen golf course, but the game travels well pretty much anywhere on Earth. If a person"deserves" another major triumph, Oosthuizen is the man.

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