CHAMP: Richard Bland still on top at Senior PGA Championship

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LIV Golf’s Richard Bland is alone in first place after two rounds of the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.

The Englishman followed his opening 64 with a 5-under 66 at Harbor Shores Resort to take a one-shot lead over Scott Dunlap on Friday in Benton Harbor, Mich.

After his bogey-free trip around the course on Thursday gave him a share of the 18-hole lead with Australian Richard Green, Bland made six birdies (four on the front nine) with one bogey for his encore. He enters the weekend at 12-under 130.

“Probably wasn’t as easy as it probably was yesterday,” Bland said. “I kind of — I struggled a little bit on the greens with my pace; my strike was a little off. …

“But, yeah, tee to green there is no issues there. But I haven’t really had any all year, so, yeah, if I can just get the putter warmed up a little bit, then hopefully there is a couple good scores in me for the weekend.”

Bland, 51, is playing in his first senior tournament of any kind and clearly faring well. He said he was curious how he’d do against the 50-and-older major championship field.

“I want to play LIV as long as I can, but also I know — I don’t really know what I want to do when that ends, whether I do want to come and try and play out here,” Bland said.

“… My wife seems to think I’ll never retire, but, yeah, we’ll see. Even if I did win here this week, and there is a lot of golf to be played before then, I don’t know if the PGA Tour would allow me to play Champions.”

For his part, Dunlap reached 12 under for the tournament by birdieing seven of his first 11 holes Friday. His only misstep came with a bogey at the par-5 15th, so he settled for a 65.

The 60-year-old won last week’s Insperity Invitational for his first victory in about 10 years.

“That’s as good of golf as I’ve got,” Dunlap said. “Obviously I won recently, so got a little bit of confidence, maybe figured a few things out. But my track record around here has been a little wanting, so I guess maybe I hadn’t used up any of (my) good golf. It’s kind of all come out in these two rounds.”

Chris DiMarco also shot 65 to grab third place at 9 under. Ernie Els of South Africa had the round of the day, a 7-under 64, to jump into a tie for fourth at 8 under with Brian Gay (67). Els was frustrated that a bogey 6 at his last hole, the ninth, tarnished an eight-birdie outing.

“It’s a lot better than where I was (Thursday),” Els said. “Even with that bogey on 9, I’m where I want to be. You know, I can kind of be seeing what the leader is doing (Saturday) and hopefully I have a good round.”

Green shot an even-par 71 to drop into a large tie for sixth at 7 under. Notables to miss the cut of 2 over par include Stephen Ames of Canada (3 over), Bernhard Langer of Germany (3 over), Englishman Paul Broadhurst (4 over) and Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal (6 over).

–Field Level Media

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