Why not? Club pro Michael Block vows to compete for US PGA title

Club professional Michael Block insisted he could contend for an extraordinary victory in the US PGA Championship as Oak Hill continued to provide a stiff test for the world’s best players.

Block, who is one of 20 PGA professionals in the field in Rochester and the head pro at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in California, carded a second consecutive 70 for a halfway total of level par.

And that was just one behind early clubhouse leader and playing partner Taylor Pendrith, the Canadian adding a 69 to his opening 70 for a one-under-par total later matched by England’s Justin Rose.

“I am having a great time,” Block, 46, said after a round containing four birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey on the fifth, which was the result of a dreaded shank off the tee.

“I have no pressure, I have a job and a pay cheque waiting for me at my club. I don’t have to make putts to pay for my mortgage. This is a beautiful thing I have here. I’m a very lucky guy and I’m looking forward to playing on Saturday and Sunday.

“I feel like I’ve got the game this week to compete, to tell you the truth. I’ve made the cut, which is obviously a huge goal.

“I feel like I could shoot even par out here every day. I feel at the end of the four days that that might be a pretty good result.

“I’m extremely comfortable. To be honest, a couple of my friends in Orange County are Beau Hossler and Patrick Cantlay. I’ve played a lot of golf with them now where they’ve become my friends.

Michael Block
Michael Block hits his tee shot on the seventh hole during the second round of the US PGA Championship (Eric Gay/AP)

“I understand where they’re ranked in the world (131st and fourth respectively). I understand how my game doesn’t quite get up to them, but I’m pretty darn close, and I can compete with them.

“Why not come here and compete? Why not here at Oak Hill, make the cut? I’m not afraid of them any more, to be honest.”

Block even has the words “Why not?” stamped on the balls he uses as a reminder not to doubt his abilities when the pressure is on, something which stems from holing a putt to qualify for the 2007 US Open.

Asked what the ultimate “why not?” would be, he added: “To win, by far. As weird as it sounds, I’m going to compete. I promise you that.”

Block looked set to face some stiff opposition in his bid for an unlikely victory however, world number two Scottie Scheffler and Canada’s Corey Conners sharing the lead on six under approaching the end of the day.

Scheffler made an ideal start with birdies on the first two holes and, after dropping his first shot of the week on the seventh, also birdied the 14th and 15th.

Conners had started from the 10th and picked up shots on the 13th and 15th to reach the turn in 33 before making his third birdie of the day on the second.

First-round leader Bryson DeChambeau, who carded an opening 66, had slipped to one under par after taking 38 shots to cover the front nine.

Rose had earlier joined DeChambeau at the top of the leaderboard when he covered his first seven holes of round two in three under par, but struggled off the tee and played the remainder in three over.

Fellow Englishman Callum Tarren was four shots off the lead after covering the first 12 holes of his second round in three under to improve to two under overall.