Michael Block is embracing his unlikely position as a PGA club professional at Oak Hill. Despite initially planning to return to California on Saturday, Block finds himself competing and contending at the PGA Championship. With every shot, he humorously mugs and shrugs at the camera, reminiscent of Jim from “The Office.” While he acknowledges the unexpected nature of his success, he possesses the conviction and skill necessary to accomplish what he has done.
This feel-good story has had a surprising impact, setting the stage for a meaningful Sunday. Reflecting on his performance, Block confidently asserts, “I can compete against these guys. I can hang.” Indeed, he has done more than just hang on. Despite contending with a downpour and conceding significant yardage to his competitors, Block has maintained an even-par score over three days of the championship, carding three consecutive 70s. He is among the select few players who are not over par, positioned just outside the leading pack, six shots behind. On Sunday, he will be paired with four-time major winner Rory McIlroy.
While winning from this position may be challenging, given the formidable presence of players like Brooks Koepka, Viktor Hovland, Bryson DeChambeau, and McIlroy, Block remains steadfast in his mindset. He states, “They’d have to come back a little bit, but can I shoot three or four under? One hundred percent, absolutely, especially if the fairways dry out a little bit. That would be a huge thing for me.” Even without securing a victory, the final 18 holes hold significant importance.
Firstly, Block has already surpassed his initial goals. He had set out to make the cut and be the low club professional, but he has exceeded both expectations. Entering the final round, he sits at T-8 on the leaderboard, which may appear relatively low, but it marks a significant achievement. The last club professional to hold a top-10 position after 54 holes at a PGA Championship was Bob Boyd in 1990 at Shoal Creek. The highest finish by a PGA club professional in championship history was T-11.
There are also financial rewards at stake. The PGA of America has augmented this year’s purse by $2.5 million, bringing it to a total of $17.5 million. A ninth-place finish would secure Block a handsome sum of $500,000, while a top-20 finish would earn him $213,000—an impressive reward for someone who typically charges $150 per lesson.
MICHAEL BLOCK JUST DUNKED A HOLE-IN-ONE! pic.twitter.com/Qin8FYXFQV
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 21, 2023
Block’s aspirations extend beyond the present tournament. The top 15 finishers (including ties) receive invitations to next year’s PGA Championship at Valhalla in Louisville. Since Block secured make an “up and down for the ages” on the 18th hole Sunday, he earned a spot to the 2024 PGA.
Despite the potential rewards and opportunities, Block remains focused on staying grounded and appreciating the present moment. He has already proven to himself that he has what it takes to compete at the highest level. “I doubt if anybody on this entire property loves golf as much as I love golf,” Block remarks. He recognizes the fleeting nature of these experiences and emphasizes the importance of savoring them.
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