You could make a very real case that Michael Block was the biggest story of the 2023 PGA Championship, at least to the general sports fan.
For those still catching up on the Michael Block story, the 46-year-old PGA professional from California made waves at Oak Hill by working his way into the top 10 early in the championship. He did a walk-and-talk interview with the booth that day, finished the first two rounds inside the top 20, and was the only PGA professional to make the weekend. He said that his goal starting the week was to be the low club pro, a goal he accomplished by Friday evening. What happened next was unimaginable. Block went on to shoot 70-71 on the weekend, brought the house down with a hole-in-one on No. 15 on Sunday, and got up-and-down from left of the 72nd hole to finish T-15 and earn an automatic invite to the 2024 PGA Championship. He beat Jordan Spieth by four shots, Jon Rahm by six, Dustin Johnson by eight, and Justin Thomas by 11 freaking shots.
PGA club professionals are integral to the PGA Championship. They almost never factor into the championship (and there are certainly too many in the field), but their involvement is sewn into the fabric of this event. The idea that a guy who works in a pro shop giving lessons for a living can go out and qualify for one of the biggest tournaments in golf speaks to the history of the game. I have two PGA members in my family, and while I know I’ll never see one of them at a major, seeing their profession represented in Michael Block meant something to them. Was the amount of attention paid to him while the leaders were on the final two holes a bit much? Absolutely. Did Jim Nantz exaggerate when he called Block’s up-and-down on No. 18 an “all-time up-and-down”? Absolutely. But this weekend was watched by more than diehard golf fans, and they loved every second of it.
The recent fracturing of men’s professional golf has left the pro side of the sport feeling more disconnected than ever from the recreational game. Michael Block did his part in showing that connection still exists, and he was treated like a king for his efforts.
This piece originally appeared in The Fried Egg newsletter. Subscribe for free and receive golf news and insight every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.