By Andrew Both
SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Reuters) - Richard Bland's golf cap at the U.S. Open speaks volumes about his place in the sport's pecking order.
While the superstars are walking big-money branded billboards for the corporate world, Bland wears a dark cap with the outline of a flying white swan instead of the name of a Fortune 500 or golf equipment company.
"This is just my golf club back home, The Wisley," Bland said of the Surrey course outside London where he is a member.
"I don't have a hat deal at the minute. I said to the golf club, look, it would be quite nice if I wore the hat, and they gave me sort of like 10 hats to come out here with."
Though Bland is not awash in corporate sponsorship, he is doing quite well nonetheless after a nice little earner to the tune of 339,000 euros ($402,054.00) for last month's British Masters win, at 48 his first on the European Tour.
He said his breakthrough in his 478th start on the tour had resonated with people who know what it's like to knock on the door again and again and wonder if it will ever open.
"The social media side of it I wasn't ready for, just getting messages from people all over the globe ... that's something I wasn't expecting," he said after taking the second-round lead at the U.S. Open on Friday.
"I'm just a guy who's won a golf tournament really, when you boil it down."
Bland said he was not really tempted to quit despite toiling with little success for much of his career.
"What am I going to do, go and get an office job? I'm not that intelligent, I'm afraid. I've always been someone that can get my head down and work hard, and I always knew I had the game to compete.
"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."
Animal lover Bland supports the charity Birdies for Rhinos, donating money for each birdie he makes in an effort to help save the species from poaching.
"Two things I can't stand is three-putting and animal cruelty," he said.
($1 = 0.8432 euros)
(Reporting by Andrew Both; Editing by Ken Ferris)