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LIV pro wins top PGA, denied exemption on PGA Tour Champions

Richard Bland claimed victory in his debut at the 2024 Senior PGA Championship.

Ryan Lochhead/PGA of America via Getty Images

Typically, the winner of the Senior PGA Championship, one of the tour's top five majors of the year, receives a one-year exemption from the PGA Tour Champions circuit. That is unless most of your playing time is spent with LIV Golf.

That was the situation Richard Bland found himself in this morning. And it all started with a truly impossible victory.

Bland was a founding member of LIV Golf's Cleeks team, riding an inspired golf course and winning the DP World Tour in 2021 to a tour starting in 2022.

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After Bland turned 50 last year, the age at which a professional is eligible to compete on the major circuit, the PGA of America came calling, offering Bland a spot in the 2023 Senior PGA Championship. Despite his LIV credentials, past DP World Tour winners are granted limited exemptions to the PGA Major.

Bland was unable to play last year, but when this season started he had an open spot on his schedule for the week of the 2024 Senior PGA at Harbor Shores Golf Club in Michigan. So he contacted the PGA to see if he could still play, and just like that he was on the field.

Bland then opened with a 64 and parlayed that into Sunday's final round with an eight-under 63 for a three-shot lead. It was not only Bland's first win, but his first career start in a major event.

Most players in his position will get very high starts because of their success. And Bland has earned several, including spots on next year's PGA and at least one major in 2024, the US Senior Open.

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But the Senior PGA and the US Senior Open are not owned and operated by the PGA Tour Champions, just like the PGA Championship and the US Open are not run by the PGA Tour. When it comes to the regular season PGA Tour Champions, Bland has not been allowed to play due to his status as an LIV golfer, even after his major victory.

On Sunday evening, the PGA Tour confirmed as much in a statement, writing, “Despite winning, due to competing in an event not sanctioned by the PGA Tour, [Bland] will not be eligible for travel related events. The PGA of America, the USGA and the R&A each operate based on their own rules.”

“I don't know how many doors this is going to open,” Bland said after his victory on Sunday. “Obviously, now I am committed to LIV.”

The good news for Bland? In addition to his $630,000 Senior PGA winning check, he has made $9.8 million since joining LIV.

Kevin Cunningham

Kevin Cunningham Editor

As executive producer of, Cunningham edits, writes and publishes stories on, and manages the brand's e-newsletter, which reaches more than 1.4 million subscribers each month. A two-time alumni, he also helps keep buzzing with breaking news and service content provided by our reporters and writers, and works with the technology team to develop new products and new ways to deliver engagement. site to our audience.

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