FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Michael Block entered the gates at Colonial Country Club for the first time this week to the screams of “Block Party!” and that was on a day of practice rounds when most of the people around were players and tournament volunteers.
Block’s surreal journey is still going after the once little-known club pro from California tied for 15th at the PGA Championship last weekend, and had a hole-in-one in the final round.
“It’s just a dream. I’m just cruising. I’m actually kind of glad that at this point I haven’t come to the reality about what’s happening so I can actually play pretty good golf,” Block said. “I think if I sit down and think about it too much, I’m not sure I could swing the club on Thursday.”
That is when Block will tee off for the first round of the Charles Schwab Challenge in a 120-player field that includes local favorites Scott Scheffler, the No. 1 player in the world, and Jordan Spieth.
Scheffler, who tied for second at the PGA Championship, where he played with Justin Rose in the group behind Block and Rory McIlroy during the final round Sunday.
“We listened to the hole-in-one. It was pretty fun. It’s definitely great for the game of golf,” Scheffler said Wednesday. “Any time you see a PGA pro have some success is really special. We’re definitely happy for him and well deserved to get into these two events after his performance last week.”
Scheffler was also the runner-up last year at Colonial. Sam Burns, one of his best friends, shot a final-round 5-under 65 to get to 9 under, then waited more than two hours before sinking a 38-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole.
The 46-year-old Block is playing this week on a sponsor’s exemption that tournament officials said didn’t become available until Sunday — the same day of the final round of the major at Oak Hill — when another player who had accepted it decided to withdraw from Colonial. Block has another exemption to play in the RBC Canadian Open next month.
“I don’t really know what the future is going to hold whatsoever. I’m not trying to guess what’s going to happen. I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing,” Block said. “Just keep doing exactly what I’ve been doing, exactly what I did last week, and exactly how honestly I’ve lived my whole life. Whatever comes of it comes of it. I’ll enjoy it one way or the other. I’ve got a great life both ways. So it’s good all the way.”
Block shot a 1-over 281 over four days at the brutish East Course, and qualified to compete in the PGA Championship again next year by being in the top 15. He earned about $290,000, significantly more than the $75,000 he got for winning the Club Professional National Championship at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in 2014.
Instead of returning to Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club, his home club where the clubhouse was packed over the weekend with friends and members watching him in a major, Block went from New York to Texas. He had never before seen Colonial, the PGA Tour’s longest-running event at the same venue.
“The course fits my eye. A lot of cuts off the tee, you’ve got to be pretty straight, and the greens are perfect,” he said. “I’ve got a nice little ryegrass around the green. To be honest, it fits me a lot better than it did last week.”
Block issued a public apology for not getting back to all his the friends, family and PGA members that have reached out to him over the last week. He said there were thousands of unanswered text messages on his phone, though he did take time to respond to one he got from Michael Jordan.
“I literally scroll and scroll and scroll, and it’s never ending,” he said. “I can’t even get to the bottom of any of my feeds to even see how many.”
Ryan Palmer, who tied for eighth two weeks ago at the Byron Nelson, wasn’t in the PGA Championship field. But he watched at home while prepping for his 20th Colonial start.
“It was unbelievable watching that and what (Block) showcased. … I’m so excited to meet him and congratulate him on what he did last week, which is unprecedented for sure, especially for a PGA of America member, and he qualified for next year’s PGA,” Palmer said. “Yeah, it was fun to watch. I really enjoyed watching him battle and fight. What an unbelievable, just a great story for the game of golf.”
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