He garnered the reputation for being the ‘everyman’ of golf. But it was just his off-the-course demeanor that won folks over.
Block made a hole-in-one on Sunday to add to his aura, and the legend grew. McIlroy got a first-hand look at the PGA professional and how cocky he was with his short game. In a Subpar podcast episode with Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz, the four-time major winner told a story no one knew from that week.
“This is a funny story and I think speaks to how confident he is in his short game,” McIlroy said as he introduced the story.
Block missed his approach on the 18th hole short and left. That pin location was tight left and the Southern California PGA pro had an insanely difficult shot from down in the crowd.
“It was a blind shot and it was like there’s no way this guy is getting this thing up and down like there’s no way,” McIlroy said. “He hits this shot that lands in the rough between the bunker and the green and trundles down to like six feet.”
“Michael comes up onto the green, marks his ball, and gives his ball to Harry [Diamond], my caddie to clean for him. Harry asked Blocky, is your short game usually this good? And he goes, ‘No it’s usually better.’ I was like oh my god. How great is that? How much confidence is that for him to go no, it’s usually better.”
That confidence shook McIlroy, and he just had to appreciate the line from Block. The chip shot set Block up for the short putt to get into the 2024 PGA Championship at Valhalla.
“What a week for him and he certainly made the most of it after, but good for him,” McIlroy said. “People are going to be excited to see him at Valhalla next year. People really bought into that story and it was cool. It certainly added to the PGA Championship this year. It was a great story and it was cool to be a part of everything that went on as well.”
Block was able to play in a couple more PGA Tour events after his historic run at Oak Hill. He didn’t perform as well, but people will remember him for years to come and what he did that week.
Savannah Leigh Richardson is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. You can follow her on Twitter @SportsGirlSL and Instagram @savannah_leigh_sports for more golf coverage. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough too.