Michael Block has a hole-in-one and a spectacular finish at the PGA Championship

Michael Block has a hole-in-one and a spectacular finish at the PGA Championship

ROCHESTER, NY — Two roars topped all other roars at the 105th PGA Championship. They lasted long enough that they kind of lasted forever. They contained an unmistakable subset of sounds rare for roars but occasional in sports. They contained wonder, all centered on a player who finished tied at three for 15th place.

Those roars at numbers 15 and 18 took 46-year-old Southern California club pro Michael Block’s amazing week and pushed him further into the golf clouds. They hosted a hole-in-one and a startling back-and-forth. They exploded in Block’s ears and took up residence in his memory bank before he even went on CBS, cried and said, “I’m living a dream.”

By the time the avid Rochester made its roars at Oak Hill, so many throats in attendance knew the implausible story of Block, one of some 29,000 club pros nationwide and one of only 20 participants in that event, a happy employee of Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo. They may not have known he had qualified by finishing in a tie for second in an unnamed event called the PGA Professional Championship, but they did know he had moved up to second in the standings at a point Friday that he made the cut for the first time in seven major tries and greeted fans along the way with high-fives and punches.

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Inaccurately, fans realized the roars went for a husband and father of two teenage sons who are also excellent golfers, the kind of guy who would end up saying this: “I’m just a professional club, right? I’m working. I have fun. I have a few boys that I love to play golf with. I have a wonderful wife. I have great friends. I live the normal life. I like being at home. I love sitting in my garden. My best friend in the world is my dog. I can not wait to see it. I miss him so much it’s ridiculous, my little black Lab. But, yeah, it was a surreal experience, and I got this kind of weird feeling that life won’t be quite the same in the future – but only in a good way, which is cool.

In his tournament of 70-70-70-71, a more than commendable 1 over par, “block golf” (as he puts it) and maestro putting (as he apparently usually does), he has created both visual and auditory memories while playing alongside Rory McIlroy, just as he had played alongside Justin Rose on Saturday, and marveled at every circumstance. It became, in a way, the history of the tournament; even though the winner Brooks Koepka became Brooks Koepka again, Koepka said of Block, “Yeah, that was super cool.”

In the earliest memory, Block was standing at par-3 No. 15-2 over, trying to keep it together after some early frustration. He saw McIlroy’s tee shot and tried to assess things from that. He hit the shot, and as he descended and crashed into the cup, there was a ruckus like no other.

“And all of a sudden, it disappears, whatever,” Block said. “I’m like, ‘Cool.’ I’m like, ‘Thanks, guys.’ Rory comes down the trail 20 yards from me and turns around and starts walking towards me with his arms open to give me a hug. And he goes, ‘You did it.’ I go, ‘What?’ I’m like, ‘Seriously?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, you did.’ He must have told me five times that I had succeeded.

He even destroyed the hole himself. “I blew the hole,” he said. “Rory was like, ‘We have to cross-check this thing.’ I got up there, and half the hole – the bottom hole was blown out. So, yeah, pretty cool. Nice experience. I still feel like I’m on cloud nine right now.

“I mean,” McIlroy said, “it was an incredible golf shot.” He called it a “nice little draw in the left wind, and you know, the ball goes straight into the hole.” He said that “in terms of the atmosphere and, yes, the whole kind of atmosphere of the day, yes, it is definitely one of the best (in the 57 major championships) that I have played in.”

By the time the pair reached No. 18 and Block had saved the par 120 yards on No. 17, Block headed for a lie left of the green. Some people knew — but Block didn’t — that a top-down par would put him 15th and automatically qualify him for the 2024 PGA Championship. Everyone, including Block, knew it looked like lightweight form. from hell.

Then he dispatched a nice pitch that dropped to the left fringe of the green, faded to seven feet and set up. If the crowd went half crazy, it got crazier next, when his par putt broke slightly from side to side, came to a brief halt on the doorstep, then continued on.

The noise exploded and remained booming. McIlroy gave Block a long hug. Block left for a powerful hug from Val, his wife. He applauded the fans standing nearby. He turned around to go dancing with children. Then he cried on CBS and later said, “I didn’t cry when I had my kids. I cried, for some reason. If you like golf, you know, I cry about golf, to be honest. . . . If it makes sense, the only thing in the world that makes me cry is golf.

Life was about to change. After winning $288,333 (beating his previous record of $75,000 at a 2014 pro club event in Myrtle Beach), he was heading to a Rochester pub on Sunday night where “not a single person knew me.” the previous Sunday evening. That would change, perhaps with another roar, as would the plans for next week.

“I just got a call from Colonial,” he said of the revered Fort Worth tournament, “and I’m next week as the last exempt sponsor, which is really even more mind-blowing now. So I’m readjusting flights to get to Dallas and Fort Worth, so I can’t wait to be there, to say the least.

“No,” he said. “This week has been absolutely a dream.”

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