Available for lessons from $125, 46-year-old club pro Michael Block is making waves at the PGA Championship
As the golfer in the mustard hoodie left the 18th green, camera crews and fans jostled for position.
He posed for selfies and signed autographs before making his way to the Oak Hill clubhouse to card a second round score that left him just four shots off the lead at the PGA Championship.
It’s the sort of commotion – and score – that typically follows the game’s biggest stars, multiple major winning names like Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth, and Justin Thomas.
But when Michael Block, a 46-year-old PGA Head Professional who teaches golf lessons at a public-access club in California, returned to the clubhouse, he was leading all of them.
Block, head pro at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo, shot his second consecutive even-par 70 on Friday to all-but-guarantee the continuation of his fairytale start into the weekend rounds at the 105th edition of the major in Rochester, New York.
Block has rapidly become a fan-favorite at Oak Hill. - Andy Lyons/Getty Images
One of twenty PGA Professionals to qualify for the tournament, Block has never made the cut in any of his previous seven major outings. He made it to the weekend four times across his 24 PGA Tour appearances before this week, with his career-best performance a tied-69th finish at the Sanderson Farms Championship in 2014.
Yet with the projected cut line expected to fall around five over par at a testing Oak Hill course, Block is planning to stick around for a few more days.
“I think I’m in it, I think I’m good,” he told Sky Sports shortly after his second round.
“It’s been my last goal in my golf career [to make the cut] so I’m very excited about that … To be honest my game’s actually pretty good right now where I think I can compete and have a nice finish and make my wife happy.”
Emblazoned on Block’s golf balls are the words “Why not?”, and the 46-year-old has lived by that question at Oak Hill.
Priced by bookmakers at +50000 (500/1) odds to win heading into the tournament, Block was one shot off the lead after the fourth birdie of his second round.
A subsequent bogey and double bogey dropped him back, but Block steadied the ship immediately, easing home with a run of four straight pars.
It keeps him on track to beat the tied-11th record for the best ever finish by a PGA Professional at the major. Not since Steve Schneiter in 2005 has a PGA pro finished inside the top-40.
Block is on course for a history-making finish at Oak Hill. - Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Yet if he makes history with a scorecard showing over-par, Block may have some grievances.
“I’m not very happy at all being over par in my life no matter where I am,” he told reporters after his opening round.
“When I’m even one-over, whether it’s at a PGA Championship or at home playing against my kids, I need to get back. It’s just how I am.
“I don’t care if it’s at a major or in a skins game on Tuesday back at my home club, it’s just how I roll. Honestly, it’s how I’m going to play the next three days.”
Top of the class
Block’s performance may have come as little surprise to those he has taught back at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club where, according to the PGA Tour, the course record holder is available to hire for a 45-minute lesson from $125.
A 10-time Southern Californian PGA Player of the Year, Block is the reigning PGA Professional Player of the Year and stamped his ticket to Oak Hill with a runner-up finish at the PGA Professional Championship in Mexico last month.
In a walk and talk interview with ESPN during his first round, Block shared an insight into his teaching philosophy.
“The old Arnold Palmer, ‘Swing your swing,’ is a huge thing for me,” Block explained.
“I don’t teach one way. I teach what that person has the capability of doing and learning, and that’s been a huge benefit of teaching for the last 25 years for me. I’m not trying to teach anybody Tiger’s or Rory’s swing, because that’s just not going to happen. So you’ve got to be realistic with what you’ve got. That’s a big thing. I try to be honest with my guys.
“The first couple years, you’re out there and you’re winging it. And telling everybody the same thing. Once you get confident in your teaching and your playing, it just gets better.”
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