After tying for 15th at the PGA Championship in remarkable fashion, Michael Block shot an 11-over 81 on Thursday in the opening round of the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas.
The 46-year-old club professional who teaches at a course in Mission Viejo, Calif., received a sponsor’s exemption into the PGA Tour stop at Colonial Country Club after his fairytale run at last week’s major.
The amiable Block, who won over golf fans last week as an everyman living his dream, had never played Colonial before and struggled with his game Thursday.
“I don’t really need to explain it too much because, if you are a golfer, you’ve had the day I’ve had,” Block said. “… I’m going to live with it. I thought it was going to happen that third or fourth round last week at Oak Hill, and it never happened. It happened now, and I wasn’t surprised by it, to tell you the truth.
“The experience I had that last week was next level. So today, coming out here and not having my game at all and having a lot of bad luck or whatever you might call it, just call it golf.”
Block opened with three straight bogeys and wound up 5 over through 14 holes. His score tanked when he made double bogeys at the par-4 15th, par-3 16th and par-4 18th holes.
The round was not without its highlights. After bogeying his first three holes, Block stepped to the tee at the long par-3 fourth and nearly had a repeat of his hole-in-one on Sunday at the PGA. His tee shot bounced on the front of the green and eventually rolled just 4 feet by the cup, leading to one of his two birdies.
Block also saved par at No. 10 after his drive sprayed right and landed on a pedestrian bridge. Rather than taking a drop and a penalty stroke, Block took aim for the green. He hit his second shot over a tree and landed just shy of the green, leading to par.
“Better than taking a penalty, right guys?” Block was heard saying on the TV broadcast.
It was not Block’s first time playing in a PGA Tour event on an exemption. Most recently, he received sponsor’s exemptions back-to-back weeks in January at two Southern California events, missing the cut both times. He will play in the RBC Canadian Open next month and attempt to qualify for the U.S. Open as well.
For now, Block is all but assured of missing Friday’s 36-hole cut at Colonial, though he was focused on the silver linings.
“I’m looking forward to coming out (Friday) and playing a great round and giving it everything I have,” Block said. “I’ve shot 58, and I’ve shot a 59 in my life, and since what I had today, I wouldn’t be surprised if I did it. So if I do, cool. If not, I’ll be seeing my kids and my wife tomorrow night in Orange County, California. It’s all good one way or the other.”