The Unforgettable Story of Michael Block, The Newest Upstate NY Golf Hero
Yes, Brooks Koepka may have won the 2023 PGA Championship, played at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, but he was not the biggest story from the weekend.
That mantle now belongs to Michael Block.
This was the scene on Sunday at Michael's home golf course, the Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo, California:
The scene in the clubhouse in California matched the scene along the fairways on Sunday, as Block captured the hearts of the golfing world, one shot at a time. So, how did a player, who was virtually unknown heading into the championship, become a household name in four days?
This is Michael Block's story, which was re-written in Central New York this weekend.
Who is Michael Block, anyway?
It's a great question, actually, and it's one that has two separate answers. There's the question of who Michael Block was, and who he is now. Heading into the weekend, Block was known for his work at the aforementioned Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club, where he is the Head Golf Professional.
Check out this video of Block at his home course:
As it turns out, he had gained national attention for his play in the past. He was named the 2022 PGA of America Professional Player of the Year, and according to sports newspaper Diario AS, (w)hat Michael Block did do to qualify was finish T2 at the 2023 PGA Professional Championship.
His success at the PGA golf professional level has qualified him to play in five PGA Championships, including the 2023 tournament in Rochester. He had never even made a cut at one of these events, but when he finally did, he sure made it count.
He Got Off to a Solid Start, and Played Through Bad Weather
During the first three days of the tournament, the main story became the weather. The players dealt with freezing cold temperatures on Day One, and torrential downpours during Day Two and Day Three.
While players rose and fell on the leaderboard, Michael Block stayed consistent. He recorded a score of 70 on back-to-back days, comfortably making the cut and advancing to the weekend for the first time in his career.
As the rain poured down on Saturday, Block was not fazed. He shot a third straight 70, and entered Sunday with an outside chance of contending. One question remained ahead of the tournament's final day: who would Block be paired with?
He Got Paired with Rory McIlroy...No Big Deal, Right?
One of the coolest moments of the weekend had nothing to do with any shots hit on the golf course. Rather, it was Block's reaction to who he would be playing with on Sunday in Rochester that made headlines on Saturday evening.
Check out this video:
We didn't know it at the time, but this video would ultimately serve as the precursor of what would become one of the most memorable rounds of golf in PGA Championship history.
He Did the Unthinkable on the Back-Nine Sunday
For a fourth consecutive day, Michael Block remained consistent. He recorded two bogeys on the front-nine, and entered the final nine holes of the tournament at +2. He would proceed to record pars on the first five holes of the back-nine, and when he stepped onto the tee at the par-three 15th, he appeared poised to continue that trend.
Then, this happened:
You cannot make this up. You can try to script sports drama like this, but it simply won't live up to what we witnessed here. Every golf fan watching was in-shock, but no one was more surprised than Block himself.
He even asked Rory McIlroy, one of the best golfers in the world, this question: Rory, did that go in?
Now, He's a Fan-Favorite...and Will Be Back for More!
Block would bogey the next hole (the 16th), and record back-to-back pars to finish the tournament at +1. He capped off his performance with an impressive up-and-down on the 18th hole, pulling his second shot into the crowd, but chipping onto the green with his third, and saving par with his fourth shot.
Take a look at the final putt, captured here:
Throughout this entire experience, Block stated that he took every opportunity to "soak it all in", and enjoy every moment for as long as possible.
He also made sure to capture his last moment with his playing partner, Rory McIlroy:
The golf world cannot get enough of Michael Block, and apparently, the organizers of next week's tournament, The Charles Schwab Challenge, agree with that statement. Here is the moment when Block found out he'd need to miss work this coming week:
Not only will Michael Block be playing in this week's Charles Schwab Challenge, but with a top-15 finish in Rochester, Block is now guaranteed a spot in the 2024 PGA Championship, as well.
This is truly one of the greatest golf stories that we've ever seen, and it all happened on a pristine golf course in Central New York.