Michael Block: Club professional returns to PGA Championship spotlight at Valhalla after last year’s major fairytale | Golf News

There’s an aged-old saying that everyone gets to be famous for 15 minutes, but Michael Block’s run in the sporting spotlight rolls into a second year thanks to his fairytale PGA Championship experience.

Block – who works at Arroyo Trabuco in Southern California – was an unfamiliar name to most when he qualified for the 2023 contest at Oak Hill as one of 20 club professionals, only to announce himself to the golfing world with a tournament to remember.

As Brooks Koepka held off Scottie Scheffler and Viktor Hovland to win the Wanamaker Trophy for a third time and his fifth major title, Block was building his own celebrity status thanks to a performance so script-worthy that a documentary is being made about his achievements.

Block quickly became a fans’ favourite with a hole-in-one, viral interviews and incredible moments on his way to a tied-15th finish, the best by a club professional since 1986, with the performance good enough to ensure an automatic spot in this year’s event.

After a year of PGA Tour sponsor’s invites, commercial deals, mixing with stars of sport and showbiz, Block is back in action at Valhalla for the second men’s major of the year – live on Sky Sports Golf from Thursday – although has played down his hopes of repeating his success.

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Shepmates celebrated Michael Block’s hole in one at Oak Hill during the PGA Championship in the most hilarious way!

“There’s really no way in God’s green earth I do what I did last year!” Block exclusively told Sky Sports ahead of this year’s contest. “I feel like I have more pressure, because there are a lot more eyes on me, but at the same time I feel like I have a little less than ever before because I have already done it.”

The creation of the Block party

The then 46-year-old, who had missed the cut in each of his previous six major appearances, quickly exceeded his own low pre-tournament expectations with back-to-back 70s over the first two days, leaving him heading into the weekend inside the top-10 and within five shots of the lead.

Live PGA Championship Golf

Thursday 16th May 1:00pm

“I really only had two goals going into that week,” Block explained ahead of this year’s contest at Valhalla, live from Thursday on Sky Sports Golf. “Making the cut was a huge target and so was being the low club professional, so I could stand on the 18th green on Sunday afternoon.

“Both of those were accomplished on Friday, because no other club pro made the cut, so it allowed me to really relax on the weekend – even though it was the most pressure I have ever had in my whole life playing golf!”

The additional attention began to build on the Saturday, when he was involved in a “surreal” live walk and talk with legendary broadcaster Jim Nantz and experienced huge chants of ‘Blockie!’ from the crowds as he battled to a third-round 70 alongside former world No 1 Justin Rose.

“That day was when it all of a suddenly hit me what was going on,” Block admitted. “Every player in the locker room was encouraging me to keep having fun and keep doing what I’m doing, but it just started to escalate more and more as that Saturday went on.”

A video that went viral on social media saw Block left almost speechless when a reporter revealed post-round that he had secured a Sunday pairing alongside four-time major champion Rory McIlroy, an opportunity he openly admits was “the coolest thing in the world”.

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Michael Block was in disbelief after learning he would be paired with Rory McIlroy in the final round of the PGA Championship

“That was that was something I had never in my expected in my life,” Block said. “I really enjoyed the time that I had with him [McIlroy]. He was fantastic. The crowd was fantastic. And I had one of the best days of my life!”

The Hollywood finish at Oak Hill

Block – starting the final day six back – knew that a top-four finish would secure him a trip to The Masters the following April but conceded he was unaware a top-15 would automatically earn him a return to the 2024 edition.

Hopes of making that top-15 spot appeared unlikely when he stepped onto the par-three 15th at two over for his round, only to generate the biggest cheer of the week from the packed galleries when he fired a sensational slam-dunk hole-in-one.

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PGA club pro Michael Block added another chapter to his incredible story at the 2023 PGA Championship by making an ace in his final round

“I’m getting chills even thinking about it!” Block explained. “I’d never been in that circumstance, I don’t know if I’ve ever hit too many shots in front of that many people and I’d never had a hole in one in a tournament, so for everything to come together in that one moment in time is just insane!”

Block bogeyed the next hole and left himself requiring a par on the 72nd hole, where he sent his second shot towards the spectators before producing a sensational up and down to secure his pace in the field for 2024.

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An emotional Michael Block revealed that despite claiming the biggest purse of his career, the experience of playing in the final round of the PGA Championship was the best part

“I couldn’t believe that my game held up under that pressure and I still can’t believe I did that,” Block added. “I knew the crowd would go crazy if I could get up and down, but I got very lucky on the chip. When I saw the replay, I was like ‘you got to be kidding me!’

“I had only cried one other time in my life before that week but must have cried 50 times between the Friday night and Sunday night! It’s like Oak Hill really messed with my emotions and it’s like I have these emotions now that come out.

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PGA club pro Michael Block broke down in tears as he reflected on his week at the PGA Championship and claims that he has been living a dream at Oak Hill

“On the plane flying here [ahead of Valhalla] I was watching the dumbest movie in the world, I can’t remember what it was, but it was something I should not have a tear for. Then there I was, sitting there on the plane with tears!”

What happened next for “Blockie”?

Block said his performance made him “seem cooler” to his children because of a surge in Instagram followers, while a media frenzy over the following weeks continued as he took advantage of sponsor exemptions into the Charles Schwab Challenge and the RBC Canadian Open.

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Michael Block admitted he had offers for his seven-iron after using the club to make a hole-in-one at Oak Hill’s 15th during the PGA Championship

He lists being trash talked by Tiger Woods, texted by Michael Jordan, involved in video shoot with F1 drivers and winning a tournament with DJ Khaled as among the “20 to 30 pinch-me” moments from the past year, although accepts his rapid rise in fame has given him a new appreciation of the world’s best.

“What a Scheffler does on a on a weekly basis and still plays how he does. Then what Rory does too and what Tiger Woods has been through his whole life. I can see why they act in certain ways, where they may not do an interview or say no to something, because of how many requests they will get.

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PGA club pro Michael Block ended his dream week at the PGA Championship at Oak Hill by getting a picture with his playing partner Rory McIlroy

“I only had it for a couple of weeks or whatever, whereas they’ve lived their whole lives doing this and they played amazing golf the same time. I have so much respect for those guys and I couldn’t do it all the time – what they do is pretty remarkable.”

Another Block party at Valhalla?

Block intends to head to the UK later this year to compete in Final Qualifying for The Open and fulfil ‘one of his biggest check marks’, having failed to qualify in 2023, but first is focused on enjoying every moment of his latest PGA Championship appearance.

Live PGA Championship Golf

Thursday 16th May 10:45pm

“My wife’s like ‘just be careful what you’re doing and take some time and get back to that Blockie mode’. We call it Blockie mode, where it’s just having fun. Me having fun plays good golf, whereas me stressed out is where I can get tight and I get quick and that doesn’t work in a golf swing.

“I actually asked my wife the other day at dinner why my goal should be for this year and she goes ‘Michael, just try and make the cut and go from there’, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

“I’ll try post a good first round, keep going for the second and try to make the cut again. If I’m stood there on the green again with the champion on Sunday then that would be fantastic.”

Who will win the PGA Championship? Watch live from May 16-19 on Sky Sports! Live coverage begins on Thursday May 16 from 1pm on Sky Sports Golf. Stream the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, majors and more with NOW.

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