Michael Block had a funny feeling that his life was never going to be the same. He was right.
Block’s accomplishments at the PGA Championship over the weekend commanded the attention of the sporting world, including one of the greatest living athletes in any sport.
“Getting a text from Michael Jordan today, that’s — I’m a big Jordan guy my whole life,” Block said Tuesday. “I was a little kid in Iowa saving 100 bucks for a pair of Jordans back in the day. Pretty darn cool, to say the least.”
Block, the head professional at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo, Calif., was one of 20 PGA pros to qualify for last week’s major and tied for 15th at Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford, N.Y. That automatically got him into next year’s PGA Championship, no qualification necessary.
He made a hole-in-one at his fourth-to-last hole of the tournament and hours later received a sponsor’s exemption into this week’s PGA Tour stop. The “Block Party” will continue at the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.
Speaking ahead of the tournament Tuesday, Block said Jordan wanted to tell him “what he saw is why he loves the game of golf so much.”
The 46-year-old is used to hobnobbing with famous athletes, though. In Southern California he plays with the likes of Patrick Cantlay, the fourth-ranked player in the world. Block told reporters Tuesday he has a friendship with Albert Pujols, who visited a course Block plays at in Orange County, Calif., while he played for the Los Angeles Angels. Block’s friend paired him with Pujols.
“So played with Albert, and I shot like 64 or something like that, and he’s like, we need to play,” Block said. “We need to keep playing some golf. He goes, ‘You want to play tomorrow?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah.’ So we’ve become good buds.”
Now he’s invited to Pujols’ wedding. Just another day in the life of the man whose golf game and charming attitude won over the crowd at Oak Hill and the everyday golfers watching on TV.
“It’s just weird now where I come up through a gate and the guys at the gate are screaming âBlock Party’ when I’m going through, and the guy making me an omelet gave me knuckles and said I did awesome last week,” Block said. “I mean, that’s the part where it’s a little beyond me at this point. So it’s cool, but I’m trying to enjoy it.”
Block has received sponsor exemptions into PGA Tour events before — he will also take part in the RBC Canadian Open next month in Toronto — but this week is his first time visiting Colonial, the longest-standing non-major venue on tour.
“I absolutely love it. The people have been amazing,” Block said. “The invitation was fantastic, obviously from Charles Schwab and everyone here. I’ve only been here on property for 20 hours in town, and everyone has been absolutely endearing.
“The course fits my eye. A lot of cuts off the tee. You’ve got to be pretty straight. And the greens are perfect. I’ve got a nice little ryegrass around the green. To be honest, it fits me a lot better than it did last week.”
Being a longtime teaching professional in the Southern California area, Block had earned something of a “legend” status, according to California native and world No. 7 Max Homa.
“It’s a major. Everyone is as prepared as you could possibly be, and to go and beat basically everybody, all but 14 people, I mean, that’s awesome,” said Homa, who had played a professional tournament with Block some years back. “It shows you how much game he’s got. It shows you his mental fortitude.
“Again, as much as all that was impressive, just the joy he had while playing and all of that was — I think that’s what stuck out the most.”