Southern Californian takes PGA PNC in playoff

Michael Block erased a four-stroke deficit, caught the leader at the last hole, then made a 3-foot birdie putt at the second playoff hole Wednesday to win the 47th PGA Professional National Championship.
Michael Block erased a four-stroke deficit, caught the leader at the last hole, then made a 3-foot birdie putt at the second playoff hole Wednesday to win the 47th PGA Professional National Championship. ( PGA of America )

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – Michael Block erased a four-stroke deficit, caught the leader at the last hole, then made a 3-foot birdie putt at the second playoff hole Wednesday to win the 47th PGA Professional National Championship at the Dunes Golf and Beach Club.

Block, the head professional at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo, Calif., finished 72 holes tied with Jamie Broce, the head coach of the men’s golf team at the University of Toledo, at 2-under-par 286. Block finished with an even-par 72 and Broce a 3-over 75. They were one stroke ahead of Stuart Deane of Arlington, Texas, and those three players were the only ones to finish the week under par.

Broce led by as many as four strokes Wednesday, but he hit only six fairways in the final round and got up and down for par just once in seven tries. The biggest of those misses came at the 72nd hole, when both players hit their approach shots into the front left greenside bunker.

Broce, leading by one at the time, blasted out 6 feet by the hole, but his putt for par, and the win, lipped out.

“That was a really good putt he hit,” said Block, who nearly holed his bunker shot but settled for a 2-foot par putt that forced the playoff.

After both players parred the 18th hole again, they went to the short par-4 10th. Block had only 3 feet for birdie after Broce two-putted from 18 feet.

“This means everything, you have no idea,” said Block, who became the eighth player to win the Professional National Championship in his first try. “This changes my life.

“I didn’t have any pressure on me at all. I never led at all this week. This is just unbelievable.”

Block was born in Reno, Nev., and played collegiately at Missouri-St. Louis. He doesn’t have an extensive tournament résumé – the two most notable victories are the 1998 St. Louis Amateur and the 2001 California State Open – but there have been memorable moments.

He won a Monday qualifier at the PGA Tour’s Northern Trust Open last year, eagled his first hole, played the first nine in 2-under-par 33 and then made a second eagle at No. 11. He has qualified for one U.S. Open (2007).

Block leads the top 20 finishers from the Professional National Championship into August’s PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky.