‘Like the new John Daly’: How the Michael Block legend was born Sunday at the PGA

The Michael Block legend was born Sunday at the PGA Championship. Here’s how one of the game’s great stories came to be.

The post ‘Like the new John Daly’: How the Michael Block legend was born Sunday at the PGA appeared first on Golf.

The Michael Block legend was born Sunday at the PGA Championship. Here’s how one of the game’s great stories came to be.

The post ‘Like the new John Daly’: How the Michael Block legend was born Sunday at the PGA appeared first on Golf.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — PGA Championship! PGA Championship Sunday! A PGA Championship Sunday pairing with Rory McIlroy! Let’s go, Michael Block! This was it!! Cinderella had on golf shoes. Do you believe in miracles? Yes! 

Hold on one sec. 

A volunteer needed a hand. 

Block had just finished up some bunker practice minutes ahead of his 2 o’clock tee time and started walking toward hole one here at Oak Hill Country Club when the volunteer was having some trouble with a gallery rope — and the gallery was getting antsy. Block darted over, helped and smiled. 

Forever a club pro. A day earlier, after his third-straight even-par round that had positioned him just six back heading into the final round, in an event he had failed to make the cut in in four previous appearances, on a course that was manhandling the world’s best, Block described one part of his day job, at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo, Calif., like this: “You deal with 600 different personalities, right? You’ve got a lawyer telling you how to grow grass and you’ve got an accountant telling you that the burger wasn’t cooked right. So you’ve got to deal with it and you know how to deal with everybody under the sun.”

So you had to think this thing would end at some point, didn’t you? None of the other 20 club pros had even made the cut. Block would eventually go away, too. The story was cute. The two broadcast interviews — two of ’em. The swagger — he’s been wearing Jordans this week. The IPA drinking — he likes Ballast Point’s Grapefruit Sculpin. But he’s 46. And he couldn’t hang with the gang that plays for a living, not teaches. (And deals with the grass and the burgers, too.) Not now, at the PGA Championship, on PGA Championship Sunday, with a PGA Championship Sunday pairing with Rory. The clock has struck midnight. Game over. 

Hold on another sec! 

Let’s first find Val Block. She’s Block’s wife of 18 years and has been here all week. After her husband was done with the rope maintenance, she heard hundreds and hundreds shout her and her man’s last name as he worked his way to the first-hole tee box. Block. Block. Block. It was — she actually couldn’t find the words. We caught up on 5, where we had actually met earlier in the week, and she was on her tippy toes trying to see her husband. She loved this. She couldn’t stand this. Both were true. Block bogeyed the first hole — “Oh, he hooked his [tee] shot,” Val said — he parred the next five and he bogeyed the seventh hole. 

Let’s find Lyon Lazure. He’s Block’s good friend. How good? Dude flew out here Friday night when Block had made the cut, and he was here for all of Saturday and Sunday. We caught up on 3. His boy was here at 10 in the morning, and he was soon signing autographs for folks in the merch tent. Block is entertaining if nothing else. But this? Who knows what this was. His buddy played holes 8 through 14 at even par.  

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Let’s find Bob Lasken. He’s one of the teaching pros at Block’s club. We texted Saturday when their head pro reached the weekend. We talked on the phone. He sent me a video from O’Neill’s, the grill room at Arroyo Trabuco, of folks eating, drinking and loving all that their guy was doing. On Sunday, he texted this: “I’ve got lessons till 4:30 and I hope to watch the playoff between Brooks [Koepka] and Block after.” Bold! 

But then everyone’s phones wouldn’t stop buzzing. 

If you’ve seen what happened, these words probably won’t do it justice. If you didn’t, we apologize. Actually, let’s try this. We’ll keep it short, because a few others have some thoughts. 

On the par-3 15th, Block took one swing and no more. His ball did not bounce, either. Disappointingly, Block didn’t actually see the slam-dunk hole-in-one on the testy 151-yarder, but folks all around the hole started acting weird. He asked McIlroy. A few times. Yep, the ball went in the hole. 

Just think of that last sentence! Hey, Rory McIlroy, did I just make a hole-in-one during PGA Championship Sunday? Cool! 

Lyon, what happened? I asked him near the 17th green. 

“No. Clue.”

Val, what happened? She was standing next to Lazure on 17 and staring at her husband. I asked her afterward, when Michael was going from interview to interview. 

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“Honestly, unreal. Unreal. On top of making it here and making the cut and now a hole in one? Talk about a cherry on top, right? I have no words. It’s just — all I can say is, wow. I mean, I keep on looking at the sky, like, what’s going on? Insane. And the fact that he kept himself together, it was not — he parred 17 and 18. OK!” 

I didn’t spoil it for Lasken. But I knew what was coming.  


Hahahhahahahha! I wasn’t going to spoil it for ya! 

“My phone blew up once he did it. You know it’s a big deal when Johnny Bench calls you!!”  


[He sent me a pic of his call log. Yep, at the top, “Johnny Bench.”]

Hahah. Nice. Slightly more important than my call! Haha 

“My phone literally just blew up

“Our CEO of the Ranch that owns our course just called for a round of drinks for everybody for Michael’s hole in one”


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Block was back to even-par for his round. He bogeyed 16, the next hole. Who wouldn’t? He parred 17. He parred 18, after hooking his second shot short and left, then getting up and down in front of the masses. He shot one-over par over his four days. He tied for 15th. Block is into next year’s PGA with that. Afterward, as he was sipping Casamigos in the clubhouse, someone handed him a phone. Hey, do you want to play the Charles Schwab Challenge, next week’s PGA Tour event, on a sponsor’s exemption. Yes, yes, he did. On CBS, he cried while talking with Amanda Renner. 

On 18, as they did on the opening hole four hours ago, they chanted his name. Block. Block. Block. But I didn’t think it was because a 46-year-old club pro from California just hung around and beat everybody at this PGA Championship outside of 14 pros who play for a living, though it was a part of it, of course.

Everyone else kinda thought so too. 

In short, Michael Block was what me and you would look like out there, if given the shot. Or maybe what we wish we’d be. 

At least that’s what I heard. 

Why do you think Michael Block’s story has hit home so hard for folks this week? 

“I think we’ve been waiting for this,” Lazure said. “I think golf has been waiting for something like this. I mean, he’s a man of the people. I’m still kind of taking it all in right now. It’s really emotional, kind of seeing him — I mean, I’ve never seen him cry. Talking with his wife, she’s never seen him cry too. He’s had the game all these years. He’s known it. He’s showed it this week as well, to not only us, but to the world, too. It’s crazy. 

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“He’s not only a local hero. He’s the people’s hero.”

Why do you think Michael Block’s story has hit home so hard for folks this week? 

“This is just something you just dream about,” Val said. “I always believe in him and his swing — but this is a whole different level of — I’m not prepared for it.” 

Why do you think Michael Block’s story has hit home so hard for folks this week? 

“I believe in the American dream,” Lasken texted Sunday night. “So I am somewhat biased. I have been exposed to so many people who have lived the American dream. Obviously people who take lessons are someone successful in life. There are so many incredible stories that are inspirational. I love the 30 for 30 shows. 

“This is an underdog story. This is watching someone’s dream come true. So many people have stopped dreaming. We just watched a really good person have his dreams come true and he and his family’s lives are changed for the positive forever. That is powerful. If this was a movie, we’d all be standing up and clapping in the theater.”

In his press conference, Block talked of the day. And the week. And how he’s cried twice in his life — until Sunday. And what comes next. And how folks were starting to notice him. 

And I asked him this:

Your story has resonated with a lot of people this week. Why do you think that is? 

“I’m like the new John Daly, but I don’t have a mullet, and I’m not quite as big as him yet.”

We laughed. He continued. 

“I’m just a club professional, right? I work. I have fun. I have a couple boys that I love to play golf with. I have a great wife. I have great friends. I live the normal life. I love being at home. I love sitting in my backyard. My best friend in the world is my dog. I can’t wait to see him. I miss him so much it’s ridiculous, my little black lab. But, yeah, it’s been a surreal experience, and I had this weird kind of sensation that life is going to be not quite the same moving forward, but only in a good way, which is cool.”

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There was more. A reporter to my left asked this. He smiled. 

You’ve said it a few times, and I don’t mean this in a disparaging way, but what’s it like to be living every hacker’s dream?

“Yeah, no, I’m — I’m as normal as it gets, right? It’s a thing for me where I’m not trying to be an inspiration. I’m not trying to do anything, and that’s kind of the big deal is I’m not trying to be anybody outside of myself. Hopefully people gravitate toward it and appreciate it and be themselves and succeed in their goals as I have this week, as they kind of documented my big goal this week was to be the low club pro; right? And that maybe meant shooting nine-over after two days and beating other guys and then shooting 25-over on the weekend; right? I could have been happy with that, but I wasn’t. 

“I wanted to be low club pro but also changed my aspect and my thoughts about it, and just said, let’s finish as high as we can. I didn’t look at any leaderboards, and now that I know I’m 15th place and I made $288,000 or something like that, is insane, that I did that playing golf and I love the fact that I sit in my backyard by my fire pit with my kids and my dog, and I always tell them this. I always say: Do you guys know that golf built this? Golf fed you tonight. Golf has the yard; golf supplied the home that I have in Orange County, California. Golf did this for you guys. I always tell this to my kids that golf did it, and golf just did a little bit more for me this week.”

Forever the club pro. 

Folks wouldn’t have it any other way. 

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The post ‘Like the new John Daly’: How the Michael Block legend was born Sunday at the PGA appeared first on Golf.