Social media continues to be alight with admiration for Michael Block – after the man from the Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in California finished tied 15th at the PGA Championship.
Notable names from across the golfing world shared their thoughts on the 46-year-old’s success. Previous winner of the tournament Phil Mickelson said Block was “stealing the hearts” of golf fans, while seven-time PGA Tour winner Billy Horschel claimed he’d “never been happier for a guy I don’t know”.
What a PGA championship at Oak Hill. The course,setup,crowds, and volunteers were absolute best. What inspiring play by Brooks to win his 3rd and 5th major. Michael Block stealing the hearts of all golf fans with his performance and mind blowing hole in one. Amazing week.
— Phil Mickelson (@PhilMickelson) May 21, 2023
I’ve been happy for a lot of my fellow players and friends when they play well and win but I’m not sure I’ve ever been happier for a guy I don’t know than Michael Block. Truly impressive and excited he has earned an invite to @PGAChampionship next year. Awesome story!
— Billy Horschel (@BillyHo_Golf) May 21, 2023
This year’s PGA Championship was one for the history books. Played at the recently refurbished Oak Hill Country Club in western New York, the season’s second major served up an air of unpredictability at the start of the week.
Narrow fairways, thick rough and tucked pin positions would have the keen golf eye thinking this was a traditional US Open course – but the renovations at Oak Hill had created a different challenge.
The start of the tournament was delayed on Thursday morning due to frost on the course – but it quickly heated up when the action got started. The early action saw a range of scores, with many of the tournament favourites shooting well over-par and inevitably playing themselves out of contention.
World number one Jon Rahm shot six-over par and defending champion Justin Thomas managed to make his way round in two-over par.
But one man who managed to navigate the test of Oak Hill with relative success early on was PGA Club professional Michael Block. Block made it through to the tournament courtesy of a qualifying event for club professionals and was one of 20 people in his field of work to tee it up in Rochester.
What unfolded over the following four days will live long in the memory of golf fans and PGA lore. With difficult conditions meaning high scores were the norm for many players, Block plotted his way round the course with two rounds of even par – earning himself a spot alongside Justin Rose on Saturday.
This was Block’s seventh major but his first time making the cut. Speaking on making the cut and playing alongside Rose, he said: “At the start, I couldn’t look at him because if I did, I would have lost my mind.”
He managed to keep his emotions in check and shoot even par again, leaving him tied for eighth place heading into Sunday where he would play alongside Rory McIlroy. You could tell Block was excited by the prospect of this when the cameras caught his reaction.
Michael Block will be paired with Rory McIlroy in the final round of the PGA Championship tomorrow.
His reaction to finding out will make you smile 😊 pic.twitter.com/hjs6G8Nopj
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 21, 2023
The story only gets better from there. With McIlroy five shots off the lead and chasing his fifth major – and Block living out every golfer’s dream of playing in a major on Sunday – the atmosphere was raucous and the crowds were massive. Block showed little signs of nerves as he played on the world’s biggest stage.
Throughout the day, Block kept the crowd on his side – his main goal being to finish in the top 15 players as that guaranteed an automatic invitation back to next year’s tournament. His play was steady as he manged mostly pars and a few bogeys as experience got the better of him on a couple of occasions.
That was until he and McIlroy made their way onto the 15th hole. The crowds cheered for Block as he walked onto the tee box – followed by a hush as he addressed the ball. The crowd roared as his ball travelled through the air. As it tracked closer and closer to the flag the cheers got louder until the unthinkable happened. The ball slam-dunked into the hole for an ace and pandemonium ensued.
Block, in his ever-laid-back nature, doffed his is cap to the applauding fans, thinking he’d landed a few feet away. But when Rory McIlroy turned to offer him his congratulations, the realisation began to sink in. A look of disbelief set across Block’s face even asking McIlroy for confirmation: “Rory, did it go in?” He questioned as the crowd continue to go ballistic.
Block had never had a hole in one in tournament play before, and he won’t be in a hurry to forget this one.
The 18th hole provided one last challenge for Block. He missed his approach to the left of the green, forcing him to take on a difficult chip shot – which he executed to perfection. He then made his putt for par to guarantee 15th place and an invitation to next year’s tournament.
With this performance, Block has now earned sponsor’s exemption to next week’s Charles Schwab Challenge and RBC Heritage Canadian Open.