Club pro Block puts himself in the hunt at PGA Championship
Michael Block, a club professional living out a golf fairy tale, has put himself into contention at the PGA Championship after back-to-back rounds of level par 70 at Oak Hill.
The 46-year-old American is among 20 teaching pros in the field of 156, but not since Steve Schneiter shared 40th in 2005 has there been a top-40 club pro result.
Block plans to change that this weekend.
"As weird as it sounds, I'm going to compete. I promise you that," Block said Friday. "I'm going to go out there and do my best and put my head down and play as well as I can for the next two days."
Block serves as club pro at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo, California. He gives lessons and handles routine duties but also set the course record of 59.
Block is making his seventh major start and has made the cut for the first time over a formidable Oak Hill layout that saw top-ranked Masters champion Jon Rahm open on 76.
"I feel like I've got the game this week to compete," Block said. "I've made the cut, which is a huge goal.
"I feel like I could shoot even par out here every day. At the end of the four days that that might be a pretty good result."
- 'Played amazing' -
Block birdied three of his first five holes Friday and was one off the lead before a bogey at the par-5 fourth and a double bogey at the par-3 fifth sent him tumbling.
"I wanted to be under," Block said. "Started out great, made some crucial mistakes. Outside of that, played amazing."
Block didn't check out his name on the leaderboard after his hot start.
"I knew if I looked at that, I might get ahead of myself and I didn't want to do that," he said. "I just kept playing golf, kept my head down."
Block has tested himself against top talent, playing rounds with pals Patrick Cantlay, the world number four, and 131st-rated Beau Hossler.
"I understand how my game doesn't quite get up to them," Block said. "But I'm pretty darn close and I can compete with them."
Block wants the casual player and the sorts of players he teaches to support his longshot underdog major bid as an everyman against the world's best.
"I'm one of them 100 percent," he said. "I'm just your local club pro. That's what I do. I don't hit balls. People think I've got the best job in the world. I do have a great job. I have a very supportive club that lets me go play, but the amount of times I hit a bucket of balls is not even once a week.
"I practiced a lot when I was young. I'm old now, and my swing is what it is. But the people out there, they understand."
As a way to motivate himself over putts, Block had the phrase "Why not?" stamped on his golf balls.
Why not make the putt, qualify for the tournament, play really well. So what's this week's "Why not?" move?
"To win," he said. "By far."