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PGA Championship: Who is Michael Block? Introducing the club pro in contention at Oak Hill

Michael Block, a 46-year-old club professional based in California, carded back-to-back 70s to moved into contention at the PGA Championship; Watch him throughout the weekend at Oak Hill live on Sky Sports Golf

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Michael Block says he has put himself in a good position to compete over the weekend having carded even par rounds on the opening two days of the PGA Championship

As the world’s best battled to make the cut at the PGA Championship, a veteran professional who charges $125 for a lesson was creating his own Cinderella story at Oak Hill.

Club pro Michael Block will be an unfamiliar name to many, with the reigning PGA Professional Player of the Year one of 20 members of the Corebridge Financial PGA Team who qualified for the second major of the year.

Few would have expected Block to make it through to the weekend, given he has missed the cut in all six previous major appearances, although the American always backed himself to put together a strong performance in Rochester.

Michael Block walks to the 18th green during the first round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at Oak Hill Country Club on Thursday, May 18, 2023, in Pittsford, N.Y. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Image: Michael Block is on level par heading into the weekend at the PGA Championship

"I was expecting that," Block said after his opening-round 70 on Thursday. "My goal was even par. I feel like I can shoot even par at pretty much any course in the world. A big goal of mine this week is to be on the 18th green on Sunday receiving the low club professional with the champion of the tournament.

The 46-year-old's total left him closer to the leader than multiple major winners including Rory McIlroy, defending champion Justin Thomas and world No 1 Jon Rahm, before he charged up the leaderboard with a brilliant display in windy conditions on Friday morning.

Block birdied three of his opening five holes in the second round and was in a share of second with six holes remaining, with the American well-placed heading into the weekend after recovering from dropping three shots in two holes to salvage a second successive 70.

Michael Block lines up a putt on the 18th hole during the first round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at Oak Hill Country Club on Thursday, May 18, 2023, in Pittsford, N.Y. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Image: Michael Block mixed four birdies with two bogeys and a double-bogey during his second round

"I feel like I've got the game this week to compete, to tell you the truth," Block said. "I've made the cut, which is obviously, like I told you, a huge goal. I feel like I could shoot even par out here every day. I feel like at the end of the four days that that might be a pretty good result."

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Block's Friday to remember

Beginning on the back nine, Block rolled in an eight-foot birdie at the 10th and holed from a similar distance to scramble a par at the next before firing his approach to tap-in range at the 12th.

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Block converted from 12 feet at the 14th and cancelled out a bogey at the 17th by birdieing the par-four first, although missed a 10-foot opportunity at the next to move alongside overnight clubhouse leader Bryson DeChambeau.

The 46-year-old failed to get up and down to save par from the greenside bunker at the par-five fourth, then unravelled further when a shank off the next tee only avoided going out of bounds after coming off a tree.

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Watch Michael Block's shanked tee shot at the par-three fifth during his second round at Oak Hill

Block eventually carded a double-bogey five to slip back to level par, although responded well to par each of his final four holes in conditions where many of the morning wave struggled.

"I've already been in contention, so I feel good about it," Block said. "I was rolling around, I believe, in second place for quite a while. I was actually very comfortable. Honestly, the couple bad shots I hit had nothing to do with where I was at that time.

"If I'm paired with Jon Rahm or Rory [McIlroy] or -- I have no idea how these guys are doing, have not looked at the leaderboard. I don't know who is going to make the cut. Yeah, that could be kind of huge for me, but at the same time I play with Patrick [Cantlay] all the time. He is No 4 in the world. It's golf. I'm ripping it, and I'm putting it."

Can Block claim historic major?

Block who has been Southern California PGA Player of the Year nine of the last 10 years, is the PGA Head Professional at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in California and has a clear style on how he coaches his students.

"The old Arnold Palmer 'swing your swing,' is a huge thing for me," Block said. "I don't teach one way. I teach what that person has the capability of doing and learning, and that's been a huge benefit of teaching for the last 25 years for me. I'm not trying to teach anybody Tiger's or Rory's swing, because that's just not going to happen."

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Rory McIlroy explained pre-tournament about the discipline required to negotiate Oak Hill Country Club

No club professional has ever won the PGA Championship, although Block - who practices with Cantlay and Beau Hossler - takes inspiration from past performances at majors and in PGA Tour events as he looks to contend over the weekend.

"I understand how my game doesn't quite get up to them, but I'm pretty darn close, and I can compete with them," Block added. "I've been gaining that confidence from those finishes in those rounds where I'm like, why not? Why not come here and compete? Why not here at Oak Hill, make the cut? I'm not afraid of them anymore, to be honest.

When asked what his ultimate 'why not' would be this week, Block said: "To win, by far. As weird as it sounds, I'm going to compete. I promise you that."

Watch the PGA Championship throughout the weekend live on Sky Sports. Live coverage continues on Saturday from 2pm on Sky Sports Golf.

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