Michael Block is finally heading back to his home in Orange County, Calif. — nearly a week after he was originally scheduled to return.
Fate had other plans in mind for Block, the 46-year-old club pro hero who did the unthinkable at the PGA Championship, outplaying dozens of the world’s best players to finish T15, thereby earning an automatic berth into next year’s PGA at Valhalla.
But it was Block’s everyman relatability that made him a superstar. He’s a working man, with a day job as a pro at Arroyo Trabuco in Southern California. He liked to relax with an IPA in hand. And though he was confident in his playing ability, he simply couldn’t believe the position he ended up in at Oak Hill, tearing up during interviews, getting congratulatory belly pats from Rory McIlroy, engaging in bro-chat with Brooks Koepka (“Heard you’re buying drinks,” Koepka said after clinching his victory, referring to Block’s 15th-hole ace). Block even received a text from Michael Jordan.
The deluge of attention led to Block being invited to not one but two PGA Tour events, this week’s Charles Schwab Challenge and next month’s RBC Canadian Open. He was picked up by super-agency WME sports and sported a new Raising Cane’s logo on his sleeve.
But after all of that hype, it was time to to play golf again. Instead of flying under the radar, as Block did for a brief time at Oak Hill, the spotlight was on. The weight of it all seemed suddenly obvious, as Block struggled to an opening-round 81, complete with three double-bogeys on his final four holes. Still, Block retained the borderline-irrational optimism that many pro athletes seem to possess.
“I’ve shot 58, and I’ve shot a 59 in my life, and since what I had today, I wouldn’t be surprised if I did it,” he said on Thursday. “So if I do, cool. If not, I’ll be seeing my kids and my wife tomorrow night in Orange County, California.”
A 59 obviously wasn’t in the cards for Block on Friday, but he did improve significantly from Thursday’s debacle, with a round of four-over 74.
“I have no legs,” Block confessed on Friday. “I was scheduled to fly out at 10:00 a.m. last Saturday. So if that gives you any confidence on how much I had of making the cut at the PGA Championship. My whole family, everybody, everyone that even came out to watch me last weekend was scheduled to go out on Saturday. So to say the least, for me to finish 15th and make the cut and be there on Sunday and for whatever happened happened is insane because we were all going home Saturday morning, and that didn’t happen obviously. Life changed a little bit since then, and I’ve enjoyed every single moment.
“I just want to say thank you.”
Though Block’s whirlwind PGA Tour journey comes to a close this week, fans can still look forward to seeing him tee it up again soon. The RBC Canadian Open is less than two weeks away, and Block is already salivating at the chance to have another shot on Tour.
“I can’t wait for Canada, to tell you the truth,” he said. “I cannot wait.”