PGA Championship turns into ‘Block’ party with hole-in-one, unexpected performance

Brooks Koepka was the champion, but Michael Block was the big winner in eyes of many

Michael Block poses with the crystal bowl he won for being the low club professional at the PGA Championship golf tournament at Oak Hill Country Club on Sunday, May 21, 2023, in Pittsford, N.Y. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) (Eric Gay, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

He raised his trophy in front of an adoring national TV audience and saluted a crowd that cheered his every move at this past weekend’s PGA Championship in western New York.

Tears were flowing and hearts couldn’t have been warmed any more.

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Oh, and Brooks Koepka had a neat moment also raising the trophy he won.

While Koepka was the champion of the PGA Championship and is now a five-time major winner, the big hero of the weekend and the man who heard his name chanted the most was Michael Block, a teaching professional from Mission Viejo, California.

For those who don’t know, a big component of the PGA Championship is that some of the competitors are teaching professionals at courses around the country who don’t regularly play on any professional tour.

So while the game’s biggest stars annually compete, also mixed in the field are essentially some regular folks, whose occupations are being head professionals and teachers at local golf clubs.

In other words, they are your typical, middle-class, working Americans.

Normally, those teaching professionals are usually near the bottom of the field competing against the world’s best, and in addition to the huge Wanamaker Trophy given out to the champion, a separate trophy is given to the PGA club professional with the lowest score.

But Block did way more than earn the honor of low club professional.

In a Hollywood-type performance that captivated fans both at the event and around the country watching on TV, Block ended up earning a top-15 finish.

The 46-year-old finished better than multiple major champions Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth and Collin Morikawa, and earned a nice paycheck of more than $288,000.

While his performance was full of heartwarming moments, but one that really made the country get tissues out was when he carded a hole-in-one during Sunday’s final round at the par-3, 15th hole.

Block’s shot was like a slam dunk in basketball, literally going in the air and landing straight in the hole without bouncing on the green first, sending the crowd into an uproar and Block into a state of tears as he walked toward the green.

To watch the shot, click or tap here.

His playing partner, multiple major winner Rory McIlroy, went over to give him a hug.

At the beginning of the tournament, the last thing Block expected was to be playing alongside a player the caliber of McIlroy, let alone getting a congratulatory hug from him on the Sunday of a major.

“He had to tell me five times that I made it,” Block told reporters afterward. “So it was a pretty cool experience to have Rory be telling me that I made a hole-in-one in front of God knows how many people that were supporting me.”

Because of his performance, Block actually won’t quite being going back to his normal life as a teaching pro in California just quite yet.

Block earned a sponsor’s exemption to compete at this week’s Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.

Maybe the Hollywood story that captivated the country won’t end just yet.

“This week has absolutely been a dream,” he said. “I had no idea it was going to happen.”

About the Author

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.

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