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Club pro Michael Block stuns crowd, ties 15th at PGA Championship

The 46-year-old's performance not only earned him a payout of more than $288,000, but also guaranteed him a spot in next year's major tournament.
Club pro Michael Block stuns crowd, ties 15th at PGA Championship
Posted at 3:18 PM, May 22, 2023

Michael Block was once an obscure club professional from Southern California, giving golf lessons for $150 an hour. But it would've taken nearly 2,000 lessons to match what he made from his extraordinary performance this past weekend at the PGA Championship in upstate New York.

In a captivating display of skill and determination, Block turned heads and defied expectations at Oak Hill Country Club, posting a remarkable 1-over 281 to finish tied for 15th in a field dominated by the best golfers in the world. The 46-year-old's performance not only astonished the crowd and earned him a payout of more than $288,000, but also guaranteed him an automatic exemption to compete in the major tournament again next year. 

"My life’s changed. But my life’s only changed for the better," he said. "I've got my family. I've got my friends. I've got the people that really love me and care about me here. It’s been an epic experience."

And let's not forget Block's slam dunk hole-in-one on the par-3 15th that stunned him nearly as much as it did the spectators.

After teeing off and watching his ball float toward the pin 151 yards away, Block said he lost it in the sun. Lucky for him, the thousands of fans surrounding the green saw it the whole way down, and erupted into a frenzy. Block just assumed it was a decent shot. That's until day four partner Rory McIlroy finally gave him the news.

"Rory is walking down the pathway 20 yards away from me and turns around and starts walking back towards me with his arms open to give me a hug. And he goes, 'You made it,'" he said. "I go, 'What? Seriously?' He had to tell me five times that I made it."

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While that was undoubtedly his best shot on the day, the fans wanted more, and Block delivered on the 18th and final hole of his weekend. A poor approach shot left Block in the thick rough, tucked away on a tricky downslope left of the green. Unable to even the see hole, he chipped the ball onto the green where it settled just 8 feet from the hole.  

Roars from the crowd erupted once more, as fans knew Block needed an easy par putt to remain in 15th place and guarantee his spot in next year's PGA Championship. When the ensuing putt found the bottom of the cup, Block knew he'd be back again next year.

"It's incredible. I literally have no words," Val Block said of her husband's incredible weekend. "He has worked for so long for something like this and he just deserves this." 

While Brooks Koepka went on to win the tournament for a third time, Block's PGA Championship finish was the best for a club pro since Lonnie Nielsen tied for 11th in 1986.  

In a post-tournament interview, Block was shown video of friends and family during a watch party at his home club in California. That's when the emotion set in. 

"It's amazing. I'm living a dream. I'm making sure I enjoy this moment," he said. "I've learned that after my 46 years of life it's not going to get better than this. There's no way. No chance in hell." 

But he made sure not to close out the interview without acknowledging the other PGA teaching professionals who were watching him live out their dream. 

"Cheers to the 29,000 PGA Tour ..." he said while fighting back tears. "PGA professionals of the world. This is for you guys." 

"I'm as normal as it gets, right? It's a thing for me where I'm not trying to be an inspiration. I'm not trying to do anything. And that's kind of the big deal is, I'm not trying to be anybody outside of myself," Block said in a press conference. "Hopefully people gravitate toward it and appreciate it and be themselves and succeed in their goals as I have."

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