Richard Bland moved to the top of the US Open leaderboard alongside Russell Henley at Torrey Pines after carding a superb second-round 67 to leave himself on five under heading for the weekend.
Playing in only his second tournament in the US after his remarkable maiden European Tour victory at the British Masters last month which came after 478 starts, 48-year-old Bland is in the mood to create further history with a first major in San Diego.
His unexpected rise to the top of the field comes only a month after the evergreen Phil Mickelson – who turned 51 on Wednesday – became the oldest major winner of all time by lifting the US PGA title at Kiawah Island.
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American Henley, a three-times PGA Tour winner, held the outright lead on six under until his final hole of the day as a bogey saw him sign for a one-under 70 to fall back into a share of the lead with the unheralded world number 115 Bland, a 500-1 outsider before the event.
Bland – who missed the cut at his only previous appearance at the US Open in 2009 – and Henley go out in the final group when they tee off their respective third rounds at 9.35pm (BST) on Saturday night.
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Tournament favourite Jon Rahm (70) and former Masters winner Bubba Watson (67) moved to three under with 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen (71) a stroke behind Bland and Henley at the summit on four under.
“I’m very proud,” said Staffordshire professional Bland, who defeated Guido Migliozzi in a play-off to claim the British Masters title last month at the Belfry.
"To lead a major is always pretty special. I tied the lead in the Open in 2017 for a hole, so it’s nice to have it a bit longer than that.
I was coming here off a couple of good results, a win and a third in Europe. I’ve been driving the ball well for five, six weeks now, which is the cornerstone if you’re going to put a fight up for a US Open.
“When I saw this place on Monday, it kind of set up to my eye. It’s all there just straight in front of me, and that’s the kind of golf course I like.
"There’s nothing kind of jumping out and grabbing you or anything like that.”
Bland is the oldest man to lead the US Open at the halfway stage after hitting seven birdies and three bogeys in his second round.
After ending a 25-year wait to win a European Tour event last month, he admits his decision to turn professional in 1996 has paid off.
"What am I going to do, go and get an office job?" he said. "I'm not that intelligent, I'm afraid. The old saying is you get knocked down seven times, you get up eight. I've always had that kind of attitude that you just keep going.
“I always knew I had the game to compete on the European Tour at the highest level. I’ve always known that.
“But as any golf career, you’re going to have peaks and troughs. Of course you are.
But I just think every kind of sportsman, sportswoman, they have that never-die or that never-quit attitude, no matter whether it’s golf or it’s tennis or it’s boxing, whatever it is. You never know in this game, you just keep going.
Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau carded a 68 to move to level par with two-times winner Brooks Koepka (73) on the same mark after a disappointing 73.
Rory McIlroy also toiled for a 73 to slip back to one over with Mickelson fighting back to plus two after a round of 69 that included a birdie on the 18th hole as he chases the only major trophy to elude him.
121st US Open second round leaderboard
- -5 R Bland (Eng), R Henley (US)
- -4 L Oosthuizen (SA), M Wolff (US)
- -3 B Watson (US), J Rahm (Spa)
- -2 K Streelman (US), M Hughes (Can), X Schauffele (US)
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