Michael Block poses with the crystal bowl he won Sunday for being the low club professional at the PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford, N.Y. AP Photo/Eric Gay

PITTSFORD, N.Y. — Two roars exceeded all the other roars at the 105th PGA Championship. They lasted long enough that in a way they’ll last forever. They contained an unmistakable subset of sound rare to roars but occasional in sports. They contained wonder, all of it centered around one player who finished in a three-way tie for 15th.

Those roars at Nos. 15 and 18 took the astonishing week of Michael Block, the 46-year-old club pro from Southern California, and ratcheted it further into the golfing clouds. They greeted a dunking hole-in-one and a gripping up-and-down. They boomed into Block’s ears and took up residence in his memory bank even before he went on CBS, wept and said, “I’m living a dream.”

By the time the eager crowd made its roars at Oak Hill, so many throats in attendance knew the implausible story of Block, one of the nation’s roughly 29,000 club pros and one of 20 in this event, happy employee at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo. They might not know he had qualified by finishing tied for second in an anonymous event called the PGA Professional Championship, but they knew he had risen to second on the leader board at one point Friday, that he had made the cut for the first time in seven major tries and that he had greeted fans all along the course with high-fives and fist bumps.

In some inexact way, the fans realized the roars went for a husband and father of two teenage sons who also are excellent golfers, the very kind of guy who would wind up saying this: “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 it 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.”

In his tournament of 70-70-70-71, of a beyond-commendable 1 over par, of “blocky golf” (as he put it) and maestro putting (as he apparently does typically), he made two visual, aural memories while playing alongside Rory McIlroy, just as he had played alongside Justin Rose on Saturday, and had marveled at each circumstance. He became, in a way, the story of the tournament, for even as winner Brooks Koepka became Brooks Koepka again, Koepka said of Block, “Yeah, it’s been super cool.”

In the first memory, Block stood at the par-3 No. 15 at 2 over, trying to keep it together after some early frustration. He saw McIlroy’s tee shot and tried to gauge things from that. He struck the shot and, as it descended and smashed itself into the cup, there came a peerless bedlam.


“And all of the sudden it disappears, whatever,” Block said. “I’m like, ‘Cool.’ I’m like, ‘Thanks, guys.’ Rory is walking down the pathway 20 yards away from me and turns around and starts walking back toward me with his arms open to give me a hug. And he goes, ‘You made it.’ I go, ‘What?’ I’m like, ‘Seriously?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, you did.’ He had to tell me five times that I made it.”

He even wrecked the hole itself. “I blew the hole out,” he said. “Rory was like, ‘We need to recut that thing.’ I walked up there, and half the hole – the hole back was just blown out. So, yeah, pretty cool. Great experience. I still just feel like I’m on cloud nine right now.”

“I mean,” McIlroy said, “it was an amazing golf shot.” He called it a “lovely little draw back into, off the left wind, and you know, ball goes straight into the hole.” He said that “in terms of atmosphere and, yeah, just the whole sort of vibe of the day, yeah, it’s definitely one of the better ones (in the 57 major championships) that I’ve played in.”

By the time the pair reached No. 18, and Block had saved par up-and-down from 120 yards on No. 17, Block walked over to a lie left of the green. Some people knew, but Block did not, that an up-and-down par there would place him 15th and automatically qualify him for the 2024 PGA Championship. Everyone, including Block, knew it looked like a mild form of hell.

Then he shipped a beaut of a pitch that plopped down on the left fringe of the green, eased on up to seven feet and settled. If the crowd went half-mad, it went madder next, when his par putt broke slightly from left to right, stopped briefly at the doorstep, then rolled on in.

The noise boomed and stayed booming. McIlroy hugged Block at length. Block walked off to a mighty hug from Val, his wife. He high-fived fans standing nearby. He turned around to go high-five some kids. Then he cried on CBS and said later: “I didn’t cry when I had my kids. I cried, for some reason. If you love golf, you know, I cry about golf, to be honest. … If it makes any sense, the one thing in the world that makes me cry is golf.”

Life would change. After earning $288,333 (surpassing his previous high of $75,000 at a 2014 club pros event in Myrtle Beach), he would go Sunday night to a Rochester, New York, pub where “not one single person knew me” the previous Sunday night. That would change, perhaps with another roar, and so would plans for next week.

“I just got a call from Colonial,” he said of the revered tournament in Fort Worth, “and I’m in next week as the last sponsor’s exemption, which is really even more mind-boggling now. So I’m readjusting flights to head to Dallas and Fort Worth, so I’m looking forward to that, to say the least.”

“No,” he said. “This week’s been absolutely a dream.”

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