SOUTHAMPTON’S Richard Bland sank a 15 foot birdie putt on the final hole of the African Open to finish in a tie for fifth – just two strokes behind the winner, Thomas Aiken.

Bland lifted his European Tour Race to Dubai ranking to 81st after pocketing almost 33,000 Euros, but crucially missed two very makeable birdie putts on the back nine that – had they dropped – would have put him in a play-off for the title with home player Aiken and Oliver Fisher who both finished on -20.