Club pro hero Michael Block is already creating headlines for NEXT year’s PGA Championship
If you’re a bit fuzzy on the details, here’s a quick refresher: Block is a club pro who works at Arroyo Trabuco in Southern California. As one of 20 club pros who qualified to compete at Oak Hill, he wasn’t on many short lists to contend. But, somewhat improbably, he did. His confidence and nothing-to-lose demeanor, as well as a healthy show of humble emotion when reflecting on his accomplishment in interviews, made him the pro-next-door idol the golf world needed. And he backed up the attention with some incredible moments. Playing alongside Rory McIlroy on Sunday at Oak Hill, Block made an ace on the 15th hole and a clutch up-and-down on 18 to secure a top-15 finish, meaning Block would have an exemption into the following year’s PGA Championship.
Block capitalized on his newfound recognition by signing up with sports agency WME Sports, gaining new sponsorships and accepting sponsor’s exemptions into tournaments that followed the PGA Championship. (Block failed to make the cut at the Charles Schwab and RBC Canadian Open.)
With the major championship season now behind us, Block has a new goal on the horizon: proving his 2023 performance at Oak Hill was no fluke. So, Block did what many of his fellow pros do by taking a scouting trip to Kentucky to get a feel for next year’s venue: Valhalla Golf Club. And …I think it’s safe to say the place agrees with him.
Thanks to an bogey-free, seven-birdie, one-eagle performance at Valhalla, Block fired a round of nine-under 63 to tie the course record set by Jose Maria Olazabal at the 2000 PGA Championship.
We know what you’re thinking: A practice-round stroll doesn’t exactly compare to Olazabal’s performance during the heat of a major championship. But a 63 is a 63 and should be celebrated. No doubt the round has Block brimming with confidence about his prospects next year. Less than nine months to go!