(NEW YORK) — All eyes were on an unlikely hero at Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford, New York, over the weekend where a California golf pro made history at the PGA Championship with his hole-in-one during the final round.
Michael Block, 46, slam dunked his shot off the 15th tee alongside Rory McIlroy, who hugged him and had to assure him it really went right in the hole.
“That’s a brutal hole because you can’t miss it right or left. Rory had just gone right before me and got a horrible kick, was in a really tough position,” Block told ABC News’ Good Morning America, reflecting on the tee shot less than 24 hours later. “I knew I had to hit a pretty good shot there.”
He continued, “I didn’t see it go in and all of a sudden Rory turns around and he starts walking back at me with his arms open to give me a hug. I’m like, ‘Why in the world is Rory McIlroy giving me a hug right now — did it go in?’ He goes, ‘Yeah, Block, it went in!’ I couldn’t believe it. To have it happen under those circumstances, coming down the stretch on the back nine on a Sunday in the PGA Championship with Rory McIlroy was an experience I’ll never have again in my life and I’m gonna enjoy it.”
He added that the force of the ball “blew up the hole,” making it difficult to pull out initially.
“The hole got just absolutely destroyed. The ball went directly in, it flew in the front of the cup, it never bounced or hit the pin or anything,” Block said. “We had to take about five minutes. Rules officials had to come over. We had to get it fixed — I have never had it happen like that in my life. It was crazy.”
He became the first PGA club pro to make a hole-in-one at the PGA Championship since George Bowman in 1996, according to ESPN.
Fans at Block’s hometown Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo, where he teaches lessons, erupted in cheers as the crowds on the course boomed with excitement.
“The support that I have from Arroyo — the management there has also allowed me to get out and play. And to be able to work on my game. I have got a great position — I’m very, very lucky,” he said. “I think I have got the best job in golf where I can come out and still play with the best players in the world, yet at the same time I can be at my house most of the time and have a steady job and steady pay check where I don’t have to play golf to make a living.”
Block sat tied for eighth going into Sunday’s round, just six shots back from four-time major champion Brooks Koepka, and finished out his fairytale week with a final putt for par. The par save clinched a tie for 15th and gave him automatic entry into the 2024 PGA Championship.
“We were literally walking down fairways pinching ourselves,” Block said of his weekend with caddie John Jackson. “I’m paired with Justin Rose on Saturday and Rory on Sunday. The crowd’s just huge here in Rochester. Fans were amazing. Rory is walking ahead of us and I looked at my caddie and said, ‘Is this even real?"”
Three holes after his remarkable ace, Block needed to make par on 18 to finish 15th and automatically qualify for next year’s tournament.
“I honestly didn’t know what it was for,” he said of his final putt to close the day. “I didn’t know where I was in position. I said I was not going to look at the scoreboards, even though they are all over the place and huge. … I would not have made the putt if I knew. I’m happy with the fact that I didn’t know.”
Block sank the putt to finish with a 1-over 71 on Sunday and 1-over for the tournament.
In the 105 years of the PGA Championship, no PGA professional has ever finished inside the top 10. In 2005, Steve Schneiter was the last PGA pro to finish inside the top-40 at the tournament.
Earlier in the week, Block was already the talk of Twitter, as the only PGA professional to make the cut out of the 20 who qualified to play.
Koepka, who defected from the PGA to play for the rival Saudi-backed LIV Tour, took home his fifth major win.
“He walked off of 18 green, I was walking towards 18 — [Koepka] told me that the first round [of drinks] was on me after that hole-in-one. He gave me a big hug,” Block said. “I am very thrilled to be able to stand next to him during the final ceremony.”
In addition to qualifying for next year’s PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky, Block also received a sponsor exemption to play in next week’s Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.
Block told GMA his biggest takeaway after this tournament is “you gotta be yourself.”
“You play your best when you try to be just yourself. Don’t try to be a tour pro. Don’t try to be somebody you’re not,” he encouraged. “That’s what I have been doing and it’s really helped my game a ton. It’s made the hole bigger.”
Block continued, “I have always lived my whole life to where I want that hole to look as big as possible. Thank goodness this week at Oak Hill, it looked huge.”
Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.