Richard Bland withstood 25 years of frustration and disappointment before finally winning a European Tour title. Now he's a threat to win the US Open.
The 48-year-old Englishman fired a four-under par 67 on Friday to seize a one-stroke lead on five-under 137 early in the second round at Torrey Pines.
Bland won last month's European Masters in his 478th tour start, becoming the oldest first-time winner in European Tour history.
He celebrated with a few pints of beer and a lamb roast.
"The first two or three days were a bit of a blur, as much the first 24 hours more hangover than anything," Bland said.
Then Bland learned how inspirational his achievement had been to others facing their own frustrations and struggles.
"The social media side of it I wasn't ready for, just getting messages from people all over the globe, from Australia, from America, South America, China, just saying how inspired they were by it," Bland said.
"That's something I wasn't expecting. I'm just a guy who's won a golf tournament really, when you boil it down. But as it all sunk in, I think it was just more satisfaction than anything, that I got what I've always wanted."
And he's not ready to stop at just one victory, saying: "I want more. Every golfer wants more. Hopefully I can do it again."
Bland, who could become the oldest US Open winner, has no cap sponsor, wearing one from his home club, the Wisley. He sports a rhino on a club head covering to support a South African anti-poaching charity.
"Two things I can't stand are three-putting and animal cruelty," Bland said.
Bland pondered what it might have been like to never win a European Tour event.
"You're always going to have that, when you look back on it, bit of disappointment, of slightly underachieving maybe," he said.
"It was just the satisfaction that I kept going. I never gave up and I kind of got there in the end."
His dedication to the sport helped him battle through the lows of a quarter-century of futility, including losing his tour playing rights.
"Golf is all I know. When times got tough and I lost my card two or three times, I think, what am I going to do, go and get an office job? I'm not that intelligent, I'm afraid," Bland said.
"As any golf career, you're going to have peaks and troughs. But I think every kind of sportsman, sportswoman, they have that never-die or that never-quit attitude.
"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."
- Rose, Westwood advised -
Bland missed the cut in 2009 US Open at rain-swamped Bethpage Black in his only other American appearance.
The world number 115 also missed the cut in the 1998 British Open and shared 22nd at the 2017 British Open in his only other major starts before this week.
"It's nice to play a US Open that plays a little firm," he said. "I played at Bethpage, which was very wet and more sort of throwing darts kind of thing.
"This one you have to be a bit more patient, and if you do get it out of shape a little bit, then minimize mistakes. It's a US Open. Everyone is going to make mistakes."
Bland hopes to minimize his after playing practice rounds alongside countrymen Lee Westwood and Justin Rose.
"Got a bit of info out of Westy," he said. "Rosey is a good friend... got a few pointers off him as well, which was great. Where can you miss, where can you not, where can you be aggressive, where have you got to kind of back off a little bit."