“Proper within the gap”: PGA membership professional Michael Block takes 15th place

  • Mark Schlabach, senior writer at ESPNMay 21, 2023 6:01 p.m. ET


    • Senior College Football Writer
    • Author of seven books on college football
    • Graduated from the University of Georgia

ROCHESTER, NY — PGA club pro Michael Block saw his ball hit the par-3 15th green at Oak Hill Country Club during the final round of the 105th PGA Championship Sunday. Then he heard the crowd roar.

“I hit a 7-iron with a slight flight,” Block said. “It went straight to the mark. I knew I was in good shape, maybe 5 to 10 feet. The crowd went crazy because I thought I was close.”

But then his playing partner, four-time Major champion Rory McIlroy, turned and walked towards him. McIlroy hugged Block.

“I’m like, ‘Why is Rory hugging me?'” Block said. “Rory hugs me for hitting it 3, 4, 5 feet? That’s weird. I’m like, ‘I think I just made it.’”

Block, from Mission Viejo, California, asked McIlroy if he made an ace.

“Yeah, it went in the hole,” McIlroy said. “Right in the hole.”

Block, who started the finals tied in eighth place, had the tournament’s only hole-in-one when he hit the 151-yard 15th hole. His ball barely touched the green – and somehow never hit the flag – before slamming into the hole, sending fans into a frenzy.

Finally satisfied that he had mastered the hole, Block lifted his black cap and waved it toward the galleries. He gave McIlroy a high five. Block entered the 15th green and snatched his ball from the cup, which had been damaged by his slam dunk. His caddy, John Jackson, said a large part of the trophy’s right front corner was missing.

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It was the first hole-in-one at the PGA Championship since Byeong Hun An’s ace on the 11th hole in the 2020 finals at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco. Block is the first PGA club professional to hit a hole-in-one at the PGA Championship since George Bowman in 1996.

Brooks Koepka, who won his fifth major on Sunday, said he heard the roar as he headed up the par-five 13th.

“We heard the roar,” Koepka said. “It sounded like a hole-in-one roar. We weren’t sure, maybe someone holed up on 14. It kind of came from the same area.”

Koepka asked one of the cameramen on the track who did it.

“They told me it was Mike,” Koepka said. “I thought that was something special. Me and [caddie] rick [Elliott] laughed about it. Yes, the drinks are at his expense, so add to the bill.

Block would probably be happy to foot the bill.

“To make it on this stage at this hole was a lifelong dream,” said Block. “It can never get better. That’s it. I can retire. Good night.”

But Block won’t be retiring anytime soon. Thanks to a skillful up and down on the 18th hole, Block finished 15th with 1 over, earning a spot at next year’s PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky. He will also try to qualify for next month’s US Open at the Los Angeles Country Club.

Following the conclusion of Sunday’s round, the PGA Tour announced that Block will also compete in next week’s Charles Schwab Challenge barring a sponsor, his fourth start this season, as well as the RBC Canadian Open June 8-11, also via a sponsor exemption.

“It was a week I will never forget,” Block said. “My caddy and I literally pinched each other walking down the fairway.”

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