Given the news of the PGA Tour’s merger with Saudi Arabia’s PIF this week, it’s easy to forget that, mere days ago, Michael Block’s week at the PGA Championship was a frontrunner for the biggest story in golf this year. How quickly things change!
Block’s story continues this week, though, as he tees it up in his second sponsor’s exemption at the RBC Canadian Open. If you’re still catching up on the significance of Block’s story, here’s a quick recap: Block was not only the lone PGA professional to make the cut at the PGA Championship at Oak Hill a few weeks ago, he also actually contended, earning pairings with Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy on the weekend. He jarred an ace during the final round and executed a clutch up-and-down on the 18th hole to secure a T15 finish, which punched his ticket to next year’s PGA Championship at Valhalla.
In just about every interview during and after his epic run, Block charmed viewers with his an “I-can’t-believe-this-is-happening-but-I’m-gonna-roll-with-it” attitude, and plenty of humble tears. In the wake of his achievement at Oak Hill, Block was signed by a top sports agency and invited to future tournaments as a sponsor’s exemption, including this week’s berth at the RBC Canadian Open. Michael Jordan texted him. And he even now sports a Raising Cane’s logo on his sleeve.
But all that good fortune couldn’t last forever, it seems. And in a prime example of the sports world’s reputation for building a person up just to take them down, a sound bite from Block’s interview with social media influencer Bob Menery in which Block professed that he would be a world-beater if he just had McIlroy’s length, quickly went viral.
“Oh my God, what I would shoot from where Rory hits it would be stupid,” Block told Menery. “I think I’d be one of the best players in the world. Hands down. If I had that stupid length? All day. My iron game, wedge game, around the greens and my putting is world class.”
Block’s everyman fans did not take kindly to this bit of bravado, and on this week’s episode of Subpar, hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz decided to flip the script on Block.
“Rory McIlroy is ranked third in the world,” Knost said. “If he had to play from your tee shots, what would he be ranked?”
“I’d feel so bad for him, oh my gosh,” Block said with a laugh. “I don’t know. He’d really struggle to be in the top 100.”
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Block then explained that top players like McIlroy are averaging 185 mph in ball speed, whereas Block says he’s at 160 mph.
“That’s 25 mph ball speed, that’s 50-plus yards off every tee shot,” Block said. “That equals five to six clubs less than I have into the green, and that’s just on a par-4. Much less when it’s a par-5, I’ve got a 3-wood, they have a 9-iron. If you put that together for 18 holes, and I’m five to six clubs further back, not for me or Rory or for anyone else, how many shots is that gonna save you, and what kind of handicap would you have, how much would it improve being 50-60 yards longer?”
Block insisted that he didn’t intend to shade McIlroy at all with his comments to Menery; he was simply trying to illustrate the incredible advantage McIlroy has with his prodigious length off the tee.
“Would I be higher ranked than I am right now being that much longer? Absolutely,” Block said. “How much higher? I have no idea.”
For more from Block, including a deep dive on his PGA Championship experience, check out his full Subpar episode below.