FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Michael Block walked out after signing his scorecard at Colonial on Friday afternoon with his cap turned backward, his shirt untucked and still with a smile on his face after a grueling 36 holes and being at the bottom of the 120-player field.
A week after the club pro from California became a sensation for everyday golfers by finishing tied for 15th in the PGA Championship at Oak Hill, Block was looking forward to finally getting home and playing with his black Labrador in the backyard. Only then, he said, would he be able to fully exhale and reflect on how much his life has changed in the past week.
“I'm not trying to do anything, period. I'm just playing golf," the 46-year-old Block said. “That's what I know to do.”
After a week of intense attention with countless media interviews, thousands of texts and messages that included one from Michael Jordan, and a late sponsor's exemption to play in the Charles Schwab Challenge, the exhausted Block never got his game going at Colonial — “I have no legs,” he said. He still felt good with his irons, short game and putter, but hit only 11 of 28 fairways over two rounds.
“Even when I hit it good, it would land over the bunker and then bounce back in the left of the bunker when it shouldn’t," he said. “I think I felt the wrath of the golf gods this week, which I get it. I completely get it, and I don’t blame them for it because they gave me a lot of positive things last week.”
His 4-over 74 on Friday was seven strokes better than his opening 81 that began with three consecutive bogeys, included a par after an approach off a cart bridge and ended with three double-bogeys the last four holes.
There were consecutive birdies in the second round, a 19-foot putt at No. 18 before making his turn with a 4-footer at the par-5 first. But there were also two more double-bogeys, though Block doffed his cap to a receptive crowd and more shouts of “Block Party!” after walking onto the No. 9 green to finish his final hole.
Block had a flight scheduled Friday evening to go home to California, seven days after originally planning to return from the PGA Championship in New York.
“So if that gives you any confidence on how much I had of making the cut at the PGA Championship. My whole family, everybody, everyone that even came out to watch me last weekend was scheduled to go out on Saturday,” Block said. “For me to finish 15th and make the cut and be there on Sunday and for whatever happened happened is insane because we were all going home Saturday morning. ... Life changed a little bit since then, and I’ve enjoyed every single moment.”
From the moment he showed up at Colonial, Block shook hands and greeted volunteers, jumped into selfies and signed autographs for fans young and old. More than two hours after his final putt Friday, he was still near the clubhouse mingling with fans.
“I thought I was just going to hit a chord with like 40-year-olds— with the dad bods, which I think I did,” he said. “But I think I hit a chord with all the other ones too, which is really, really cool. I met a lot of young people and old people and middle-aged people and whatever else. It’s my appreciation to them all. I just want to say thank you.”
After some time at home playing with Messi, the black lab, and reuniting with members and friends at Arroyo Trabuco in Mission Viejo, California, where he is the head pro, Block will get another chance on the PGA Tour. He has a sponsor's exemption to play at the RBC Canadian Open in two weeks.
“I can’t wait for Canada,” he said. “I cannot wait to get to Toronto.”
The Block party isn't completely over yet.
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