US PGA: Michael Block Is Mixing With Rory McIlroy And Pocketing $288,888 But Isn’t Pursuing PGA Tour
A club professional wrote himself into major folklore last weekend as Michael Block scripted the perfect Cinderella story at the PGA Championship.
A hole-in-one on the 15th capped off the fairytale tied-15th finish, helping the 46-year-old on his way to $288,888 extra in the bank account, a guaranteed place in next year’s PGA Championship and a surge 3,003 places up the OWGR.
And that ace ball, which caddie for the week, John Jackson, noted Block used for the remainder of his round, would have had ‘why not?’ written on it.
He writes ‘why not?’ on all his balls – and why not, because it was that carefree, go-out-and-simply-enjoy-it mindset that made him a star at the weekend.
He was an instant hit. With his quick tee grabs, finger-pointing to fans after made putts and head bobbing, Block quickly won over the Oak Hill crowds.
Michael Block scripted the perfect Cinderella story at the PGA Championship last weekend
The 46-year-old won fans over en route to winning the Low Club Professional trophy
Playing alongside Rory McIlroy for his final round, boosted his profile even more.
McIlroy, whose wife Erica hails from Rochester, New York, not far from Oak Hill, adopted the Buffalo Bills, while Block is friends with quarterback Josh Allen, who has a house in Southern California.
The pairing was an instant hit with the New York state locals and ample chants of the football team’s ‘Hey-ayy-ayy-ayy’ became a rallying cry as they teed off and only followed them like an echo down the first fairway.
And the Block Party didn’t stop there. Even his fellow pros were wanting a piece of the phenomenon.
By the end of the weekend, the stars of the PGA Tour were tracking him down. US Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson even sought Block out on the practice green Saturday morning and said, ‘Just keep being you.’
But while the Block revolution has only just hit the golf mainstream, the mania has seemingly been around for a while.
His likeable personality and humility has endeared him to many, dating back to 2001.
After playing Division II golf at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, he enrolled in the San Diego Golf Academy, before going on to take an assistant pro job at the Lakes Country Club in Palm Desert, California.
Block played alongside Rory McIlroy (left) for his final round with the pairing a hit
But the membership there was left baffled. They couldn’t fathom why a player of his stature was there and, after Block won the 2001 California State Open, they took measures into their own hands.
The members held a barbecue fundraiser to scrape together the funds to PGA Tour Q-School, according to The Athletic.
Despite reportedly thinking the idea was absurd, Block went along with it – albeit begrudgingly.
He advanced to the second stage at TPC Craig Ranch but that’s where Block made the decision the tour life wasn’t for him.
He decided that not only were the other players there better than him, but that they also looked miserable. And that was it, the stress of the tour was a definitive no for Block.
‘It didn’t take me 10 years to figure that out,’ Block said Friday. ‘It took me one year and I was happy with it.’
Despite giving up on the professional route, Block still has a great number of achievements to his name.
He’s played some PGA events before, making the cut on four occasions. He’s been the Southern California PGA Player of the Year 10 times and 2022 PGA Professional Player of the Year.
Last week marked his fifth PGA Championship appearance and he has also played in two US Opens. On his seventh major appearance, he finally made the cut and by doing so he has opened many doors.
His wildly popular PGA Championship campaign has already booked him tickets to more tournaments.
Off the back of his dazzling tournament, Block received a sponsor exemption into next week’s Charles Schwab Challenge, May 25-28, at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, and the RBC Canadian Open in June.
And through it all – past and future – is his family.
His wife, Val, an Argentine, was bobbing alongside the ropes last weekend with excitement, nerves and support.
His wife, Val, an Argentine, was bobbing alongside the ropes at Oak Hill at the weekend
‘She will keep you down to earth more than anyone in the world,’ Block said after his round. ‘She’s an Argentinian-Italian fireball that will tell me everything you don’t want to hear, but yeah, she’ll keep me down to earth like you have no idea.’
The couple met in the early 2000s at a birthday party in Laguna Beach. She claims, via Golf.com, that he grabbed her by the sash she was wearing and the rest was history.
Well, almost. Val returned to Argentina but, clearly instantly smitten, simply couldn’t stay away and she was back 20 days later and then that was it. 20 years and two children later, they’re still happily married.
In fact, their two sons, Dylan, 18, and Ethan, 16, were Val’s one regret from last week – the fact that they couldn’t be there.
They had prior engagements back home in California but with the fan frenzy and extensive coverage from their dad’s tournament, it’s unlikely they missed a moment of it.
Both are golfers and could make this year’s US Open a family affair.
Dylan just made it to the sectionals for the US Open and both he and Block will compete at Hillcrest Country Club in Los Angeles on June 5 to qualify for the next major of the year.
Beyond a possible father-son act at the Los Angeles Country Club, Dylan could bypass college and head to Q-School, according to Val.
The couple have two sons , Dylan, 18, and Ethan, 16 (pictured younger), who both play golf
Dylan and Block will compete at Hillcrest Country Club in Los Angeles on June 5
The family pictured together during the 2016 PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club
Away from his newfound US PGA fame, Block is a club professional at public Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo, California.
He even filmed a comical advert for the course, or as he put it, ‘golf heaven.’
And his new fan club can get up close and personal with the recently discovered favorite for $125 per hour – or possibly more now.
According to a PGA Tour profile, he is hirable from $125 for 45 minutes or $500 for a nine-hole playing lesson.
But that price may have gone up after recent events. Supply and demand, after all.
‘Actually, it’s $150 for an hour, it hasn’t been updated,’ Block, laughing, told CBS’s Trevor Immelman.
‘I give a couple lessons and I’ve learned, the people I give lessons to are the people I like to hang out with. The first 10-15 years while I was instructing I would say yes to everybody because I was trying to put a dollar in the bank and raise a couple boys and be along with my wife.
‘Now I’ve been fortunate enough to play decent golf over the last couple years and make enough money to where I don’t have to grind it out on the range all day long. So now I give usually about two to three lessons a week to people that I love to be around.’
Golf’s new hottest commodity may not only see an increase in his lesson income but also his prize winnings.
Before last week, his biggest cash-in to date was $75,000, earned at the Club Professional National Championship in 2014.
Now, it’s more than triple after he pocketed $288,333 with a tied-15th finish Sunday.
Away from his newfound fame, Block is a club professional at public Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club
Block pocketed $288,333 with a tied-15th finish and surged 3,003 places up the OWGR
And that could rise even more. Along with securing his spot in the 2024 PGA Championship and the two invites so far, Block could be on track for temporary PGA Tour membership.
He earned 59 non-member FedExCup points at the PGA Championship. With another 116.228 more points, the Special Temporary Membership could be his.
And it could be within his grasp this weekend. A two-way tied-fourth or better at the Charles Schwab Challenge this weekend would satisfy that amount of points.
But he seemingly doesn’t want to make it a regular habit, no doubt to the disappointment of his fans.
‘No, I don’t want to play any tours,’ Block told Golf Channel’s Rich Lerner after the PGA Championship.
‘I just want to come out and compete when I’m around and then go back to my club and hang out with my family.’
With Block not running away to join the PGA Tour circus, the folks back at Arroyo Trabuco won’t mind missing out on a lesson or two for his rare appearances. In fact, they’ll be cheering him on as raucously as they did last weekend.
Over the weekend a clip of members at Arroyo Trabuco went viral. The PGA is playing on the televisions in the background and they’re chanting. ‘Let’s go Blockie.’
And, this weekend at Colonial, undoubtedly they won’t be the only ones.