At the P.G.A. Championship, Club Pros Get a Chance to Play

They have the opportunity to play their way into the field. Michael Block did it last year and impressed the sport by finishing 15th.

Michael Block, the club professional from Southern California, electrified the crowds at last year’s P.G.A. Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y., holding his own against the best touring professionals in the world.

But after making the cut, his first hole didn’t bode well for a successful weekend.

“I had 25 feet — the easiest two-putt in the world — and I three-putt it,” Block recalled last week. “I started to think, ‘Oh no, this is how it’s going to go today.’ As we’re walking off the green, Justin Rose puts his arm around me and said, ‘Let’s settle in, Blockie, and have a good day.’ For him to say that?”

Rose, a major champion and Ryder Cup stalwart, was like so many other people at last year’s P.G.A.: supportive of a magical, if improbable run.

Block, 46 at the time, did settle in and eventually finished tied for 15th, which got him an automatic invitation into this week’s P.G.A. Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky. But more than the highest finish for any country club pro in the modern era of the P.G.A. Championship, he captivated the audience, inspired other club pros and earned the respect of touring pros who saw how well Block, who had been running his pro shop a week earlier, could play.

“Watching Michael Block do what Michael Block did gave all of us this inner sense that it’s doable,” said Matt Dobyns, the head golf professional at the Meadow Brook Club in Jericho, N.Y., who will be making his sixth start in the P.G.A. Championship this week. “That’s part of the challenge for us — believing you can do it. I’ve played with Michael. He’s a great player, but I can play with him.”

“His play gives you this glimmer that it’s possible,” Dobyns added. “It’s tough when you have a full-time job and playing golf is just one part of it.”

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Source: Golf -


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