He hardly outlines smiles, even though he has reasons, because the procession goes inside him. Huge, trimmed beard and charisma due to his naturalness, Michael Block, a 46-year-old American who is causing a sensation in Oak Hill, in tenth place at the halfway point of the PGA Championship. Block is achieving it where the best are stamped with the rough or with the greens, with only nine players -out of a total of 156 participants- under par after two days. “I am calm, enjoying myself, sharing the course with the best golfers in the world”, he resolved when he was interviewed after his first nine holes, then par. But later, at the end of the day, closed to par as he would also do with the second to everyone’s surprise, he dismounted. “What do you think about going, for example, ahead of Jon Rahm?” The journalists asked him. Suddenly, Block was moved and could hardly hold back the tears. “I don’t know why I get excited, but I do,” the club professional admitted with broken words. Or, what amounts to the same thing, a player who does not dedicate himself to competing but does so from time to time, invited or by right acquired in secondary tournaments, by the PGA America, since, to pay tribute, he gives away 20 places each course to those professionals who elevate golf. To sports teachers.
“I don’t know why that makes me emotional but it does.”
Michael Block was brought to tears when he was told he is out in front of Masters champion Jon Rahm.
On a trying Oak Hill course, he shot 70-70 and will make the cut @PGAChampionship. pic.twitter.com/FbDV0GHEVd
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 19, 2023
To Block, who gives 45-minute classes for around 115 euros at Arroyo Trabuco in California, for years his club has suggested that he take the leap, that he try to get the circuit card because he had much more golf than he thought . Something he always rejected. “I needed a real job that paid me weekly. I have never wanted to have the obligation to convert putts to pay my mortgage”, he resolves these days, already between laughs, satisfied that they do not object to him to be able to participate in a tournament when he finds the invitation. It happens, in any case, that this club professional is living a fairy tale in the PGA Championship, because with each round that Oak Hill ends he has avalanches of followers who request him selfies and autographs that, of course, he attends to with patience and even with a certain blush. Not surprisingly, he could surpass the record set by Tommy Aycock at the US Senior Open in 1974 and Lonnie Nielsen in 1986 at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open, both tied for eleventh as club professionals. And if not, he’s on pace to surpass the best mark since 2005, when Steve Schneiter finished tied for 40th at Baltursol.
So far, Block has played 24 PGA tournaments and only made the cut four times, his best placing being 69 at the 2014 Sanderson Farms Championship. The last time he reached the last two days of competition, for example, It was in September 2015, in Barbasol, and since then he had 15 failed attempts. So his prize pool indicates how uncompetitive he had been, barely 35,000 euros. He already knows that it will not be like that in Rochester, he has already made the cut and for now tied for tenth with two days to go. “Being here already, I promise that I will compete,” resolved this professor.
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