The PGA Tour is full of characters and big personalities - but the PGA Championship introduced a brand new fan favourite to the masses...
Michael Block couldn’t believe his ears when he heard his playing partner for the final round at the PGA Championship was Rory McIlroy.
If you’d told the 46-year-old he would be in contention for major glory come Sunday afternoon at Oak Hill prior to the event, his ears would have ignored that too.
With three rounds of 70 and a 71, Block impressively finished in the top 15 and made a stunning hole-in-one on the par 3 15th hole in the final round.
Block was one of 20 PGA professionals to qualify for the feature event in May via the PGA Professional Championship, where he was tied for second.
He grew up in St. Louis and played college golf for Mississippi State. After transferring to the University of Missouri, he became an assistant pro and then the head pro at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in California, where he still works.
Arroyo Trabuco was designed by former Open champion Tom Lehman and Casey O’Callaghan. Block charges $125 per lesson and $500 if you want a nine-hole playing lesson from a golfer who is now a major-contending tutor.
Throughout the PGA Tour season, a handful of players have taken part in walk-and-talk features with the US broadcasters, and they chose the perfect man for a chat with Block during Thursday’s first round.
“The old Arnold Palmer, ‘Swing your swing,’ is a huge thing for me,” he revealed. “I don’t teach one way. I teach what that person has the capability of doing and learning, and that’s been a huge benefit of teaching for the last 25 years for me.
“I’m not trying to teach anybody Tiger’s or Rory’s swing, because that’s just not going to happen. So you’ve got to be realistic with what you’ve got. That’s a big thing. I try to be honest with my guys.
“The first couple years, you’re out there and you’re winging it. And telling everybody the same thing. Once you get confident in your teaching and your playing, it just gets better.”
He had only made four cuts in his 24 previous PGA Tour starts, and had never made the weekend in his six major appearances.
The access for PGA professionals is one of many reasons why the PGA Championship is so special.
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