Tears aplenty as Bland embraces Sky Sports’ Barter – his coach of 20 years

Fatiha Betscher

Richard Bland celebrates with Tim Barter (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

It is not often the TV reporter asking the questions of the winner of a golf tournament finds him or herself embraced by the new champion. That is what took place when a very tearful SKY Sports Golf Tim Barter found himself wrapped by the arms of an equally emotional new BetFred British Masters champion in Richard Bland.

You see, Bland has been coached by Barter for some 20-years of his 25-year pro career and when winning at the famed Belfry, Bland ended a 478th European Tour winless drought. The 48-year old Bland had first tried to hide his emotion by burying his face in his hands after dramatically holing a 27-foot birdie putt on the final green in regulation in a round of 66 to be then clubhouse leader at 13-under par.

Bland, who had dropped just one shot over the four rounds, then found himself some 45-minutes later in a play-off before denying 24-year-old Italian sensation Guido Migliozzi who three-putted the first extra hole for bogey.

Migliozzi had pulled off a remarkable par of his own down the 72nd hole after playing his second from under a tree and clearing the water to find a greenside bunker before getting up-and-down for par to force the play-off. However, Bland was not to be denied and after the two-time Tour winning Italian missed his par putt, the Englishman calmly rolled-in his three-footer for a maiden Tour win.

If you thought the scenes on the 18th green nearly an hour earlier were tearful, that was nothing to the ‘waterworks’ immediately following the outcome of the play-off.

“It’s probably going to take a few days to sink in. It’s what I’ve worked for for 20 years,” said Bland. “That’s what we all work for, to win out here and try and prove yourself. I’ve had a few close calls and I assume someone up there was looking down on me quite favourably today. It was just my day.

“I kept telling myself when I had putted-out, that 13-under would be a really good score.  There were maybe two or three guys on 11 and especially if the weather stayed how it was. We played the last three holes in the worst of the weather as well.  So, I thought if it stays like this then the par fives are playing pretty long.

“They’re not giveaway birdies. To hole that putt on the last, I don’t think I saw it go in. I knew it was in with about a foot to go. I think I turned to the left to celebrate before it had even gone in. I’d have looked silly if it’d missed. Fortunately, it went in.”

Barter had interviewed Bland at the close of play and then embraced each other and it was the same emotional scene when Barter interviewed the newest European Tour winner.

“To have Tim here was extra special,” said Bland. “We’ve been together for 20 years. He’s a really close friend of mine, regardless of him being my coach. So, to have him here on the 18th green with me makes it extra special. This is as much his as it is mine, with the work we’ve put in. He’s always believed in me more than I’ve believed in myself, he’s always been telling me that. It’s paid off.”

Congratulations and well done, Richard and likewise, congratulations Tim.


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