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It’s Not Midnight Yet, Cinderella
Greetings From The Booth!
You can’t make up stories like this. If you pitched a script to Hollywood about the week Michael Block just had at the PGA Championship, you would be booted right out of town. Block, who just had a top-15 finish in golf’s second major championship of the year, was “the” story of the tournament. You could make the case that he even upstaged winner Brooks Koepka, who captured the fifth major title of his career on Sunday at Oak Hills Country Club.
The PGA Championship is unique in that a handful of PGA club professionals get to compete. Contrary to popular belief, PGA club pros play very little golf. Just ask your club pro about that. Their time is spent on the putting green with members, making sure the pro shop is stocked with golf clubs and gear, charging up golf carts, and ordering new sand for the bunkers. I just described a day in the life of Michael Block, who is the pro at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in California.
Not this past week…and maybe not for the foreseeable future.
Block captured the hearts of golf fans around the world by making the cut at the PGA, and for a while was in the top-10 with a chance to win. Surely, midnight would come for this Cinderella on the weekend, but it wasn’t until late Sunday that Block started to fade a bit down the leaderboard. Had the story ended there, it still would have been a good one.
Then came the 15th hole, where Michael Block slam-dunked a 7-iron for a hole-in-one, and became an instant folk hero. It was the cherry on his Sunday, as Block collected over $288 thousand for his top-15, and gets to play in next year’s PGA Championship. But the story doesn’t end there. This week, someone offered Block $50 thousand for that seven-iron he used for his ace on Sunday. Surely, he would have a sentimental attachment to that golf club and not give it away at any price. Nope. In true “everyman” form, he offered to hand-deliver it for that kind of money.
Then, Block’s childhood hero, Michael Jordan, sent him a text congratulating him for his PGA showing. And, guess who the crowds are going to be following this week as Block plays at Colonial Country Club? All pretty heady stuff for a guy who just a few weeks ago was probably giving someone a chipping lesson. But, anyone who thinks all of this newfound fame will change Michael Block didn’t hear the humility in his emotional interviews last week.
At some point, Block may fade from memory and become an asterisk in the annals of professional golf. But for this Cinderella, it ain’t midnight yet.
Until the next visit from The Booth…have a great Memorial weekend!
Sports: Monday, May 22, 2023
Sports: Friday, May 19, 2023
Sports: Thursday, May 18, 2023
Sports Dogs Podcast: Talkin’ PGA Championship With Nick
Closing The Deal II
Greetings from The Booth!
I’m writing this week’s VFB a day removed from yet another school shooting, this one in Uvalde, Texas. Our hearts break for everyone in that community, especially the parents of the children whose lives were senselessly and prematurely taken away yesterday, and for the surviving students whose innocence was stolen forever. In light of that unspeakable loss, sports doesn’t seem that important. But life goes on somehow, and we will try to put sports in it’s proper perspective as we write this week’s blog…
Putting a bow on the Shenandoah University baseball season, there is nothing like that empty feeling in the gut when a season ends before it should have. I’m sure the host Hornets had every expectation of winning the NCAA D-3 Winchester Region this past weekend and advancing to the Super Regional round. But after a tough Saturday afternoon loss to Catholic, SU was forced to play again Saturday evening just to get to the championship round on Sunday. Down 8-2, the Hornets found a way to beat St. Joseph in a gutsy comeback win. Speaking of gutsy, Jacob Bell gave the Hornets 7-plus innings in Sunday’s 6-3 win over the Cardinals that earned him a standing “O” from the sun baked crowd at Bridgeforth. Then, in a winner-take-all second game, SU jumped out to a 6-0 lead, then simply ran out of gas in a 13-10 loss which ended their season. That final game wrapped up a stretch of 4 games in 24 hours for Shenandoah, and as Head Coach Kevin Anderson told me after the Sunday win, “we’re running on fumes.”
When the sting of defeat wears off, the Hornets will look back on a 37-win season, an ODAC Tournament championship, a national ranking, and a championship appearance in the NCAA Regionals. You would take that in a heartbeat every time and not even take the field. Congratulations to Kevin, his players and coaching staff for another great season! The dynasty continues…
This past weekend, golf’s second major, the PGA Championship was held at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Justin Thomas came from 7 shots down to win his second Wanamaker Trophy by beating Will Zalatoris in a 3-hole playoff. That is a great accomplishment, but he needed help. Leading by 1 shot and needing a par on the 18th hole, tournament leader Mito Pereira took one of the worst swings you’ll ever see from a professional and put his drive into a creek. He eventually bogeyed the 18th and missed out not only on the championship, but the playoff. Not quite Jean Van Develde material, but heartbreaking nonetheless.
SIDEBAR: Can we now put the Tiger Woods buzz to rest? What he did at the Masters was Alex Smith-like and no one can fault him for fading on the weekend. At the PGA, more of the same, as colder weather charged in Friday like a steer (one of 2 things that come from Oklahoma) and certainly affected Tiger’s injured leg. But until he’s actually in contention on a weekend, can we just back off on the almost excessive Tiger Woods coverage? Yes, he moves the needle and gets ratings, but I’m sure there are many talented players on Tour who must feel that they get no love whatsoever. OK, that’s my rant.
Players respond differently to pressure, and Pereira succumbed to it, while JT, who has “been there before,” thrived on it. Pereira hopefully will learn from the experience, and next time will be able to close the deal. Thomas is already a closer.
Until next visit from The Booth, God bless Uvalde, Texas…and GO HORNETS!
Sports: Monday, May 23, 2022
Sports: Friday, May 20, 2022
Sports: Thursday, May 19, 2022
Sports Dogs Podcast: Talkin’ PGA With Nick
In the latest edition of the Sports Dogs Podcast, the R-dog is joined by Nick Ciattei of Mid Atlantic Golf Getaways, as they break down golf’s second major, The PGA Championship from Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Some Tiger talk, an overview of the monster course, and of course, our predictions for the weekend. Enjoy!