South African golfer John Bland, who won twice on the DP World Tour before coming to prominence in the U.S. on PGA Tour Champions, has died. He was 77.
Bland’s death was announced by South Africa’s Sunshine Tour golf circuit. He died Tuesday “after a battle with cancer,” the Sunshine Tour said.
Born Sept. 22, 1945, in Johannesburg, Bland turned pro in 1969 and won his first of 36 titles at the 1970 Transvaal Open. He won the South African PGA Championship in 1977, one of three victories that year and a total he matched again in 1983 when he claimed the European Tour’s Benson and Hedges International over Bernhard Langer.
Beloved South African professional golfer John Bland, who won 36 titles in a celebrated career, passed away shortly after 6am on Tuesday 9 May 2023.
Bland (77) passed away in a hospital in George after a battle with cancer, with his family and his bulldog Handsome by his side.… pic.twitter.com/4tZic37Gu5
— Sunshine Tour (@Sunshine_Tour) May 9, 2023
In a professional career that spanned more than 40 years, he didn’t compete in the U.S. until turning 50 but quickly proved his mettle with five senior titles and more than $7 million in earnings. He was named Senior PGA Tour Rookie of the Year in 1996 after winning four times and finishing third on the money list. Some of his best duels were with Jim Colbert, who finished second to Bland in four of his five victories on the circuit. Bland also won three times on the European Senior Tour.
Bland is survived by his wife, Sonja, three children – John-Mark, Bonney and Candice – and three grandchildren. He died with family and bulldog Handsome by his side.
The Sunshine Tour said Bland was “one of the most loved and respected South African sportsmen.”