michael block

Michael Block is the ninth player to win the PGA Professional National Championship in his first try.

Block edges Broce to win National Championship

By Bob Denney, The PGA of America

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – Seven years ago, and standing over a putt in a Sectional Qualifier playoff to earn a berth in the 2007 U.S. Open, Michael Block thought to himself, “Why Not?” Block made that putt to earn a major championship trip and didn’t forget those two words, which he has either written or imprinted on his golf balls since that day.

Fast forward to Wednesday at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, where Block faced a three-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole to win the 47th PGA Professional National Championship. Block didn’t hesitate, stroking it home to defeat Jamie Broce of Ottawa Hills, Ohio, and become the second Southern California PGA member to win the showcase event for PGA Professionals.

“I think now about that day seven years ago and what I went through today,” said Block, 38, the PGA head professional at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo, Calif. “I guess it was a lot alike in some ways. This time, however, it was for a National Championship. Yeah, why not? I had my chance and I took it.”

Block is the ninth player to win the National Championship in his first attempt. He closed with an even-par 72 to force a playoff at 2-under-par 286 with Broce, the men’s golf coach at the University of Toledo, who posted a 75 after leading the Championship since the ninth hole of the second round.

Block led the chase of Broce with a steady three-birdie, three-bogey effort. He trimmed the deficit to one stroke with a birdie at 16, while Broce struggled with his iron play and made three birdies and six bogeys – none more painful than a missed winning opportunity at 18.

Both players found the left greenside bunker at 18 with their approaches. Broce blasted out four feet past the hole, while Block hit his to two feet. Broce’s par putt lipped out. Block stepped up and tapped in to force extra holes.

VIDEO: See all the highlights from Wednesday's final round in Myrtle Beach

The players matched pars on a return to the 18th in the playoff, then moved to the 382-yard, par-4 10th hole. Block hit a 56-degree sand wedge that settled three feet from the hole, with Broce following by hitting his approach 25 feet from the flagstick. Broce ran his birdie putt four feet past, made the comeback par before Block ran in the winning putt.

“It’s amazing to be sitting here as a National Champion. I wasn’t leading that Championship for one second until that putt dropped on the second playoff hole,” said Block. “I feel bad for Jamie because he had it, and that putt he had for par on the last regulation hole was perfect. Some grain got it and it hit the lip and it lipped out up the hill.

“All of a sudden it opened up, and here we were going to a playoff. It was a win-win for me for me at that point. I was going to the PGA Championship, had a nice check. I had no pressure whatsoever. I was thinking I was back home playing with the boys in a skins game.”

Block joins Jeff Freeman (1999) as the only Southern California PGA members to win the National Championship and hoist the Walter Hagen Cup. He takes home $75,000 from a $550,000 purse in the Championship presented by Club Car, Mercedes-Benz and OMEGA.

“I was losing a lot of iron shots, leaving a lot of shots to the right,” said Broce, who said he was fortunate back in March after earning a Championship berth as the first alternate from the Northern Ohio PGA Section. “I thought that putt at 18 (at the end of regulation) was going in. I hit a pretty good putt. The greens don’t break a lot here.

“I clunked it a little bit out of the bunker. But, he (Block) hit a fantastic shot. I came in this week with a decent game plan. You can’t force things to happen. Second is still better than third.”

VIDEO: Michael Block reacts to winning his first National Championship

Stuart Deane of Arlington, Texas, the PGA teaching professional at Rolling Hills Country Club, finished third at 287; followed by Frank Esposito Jr. of Monroe Township, N.J., at 288.

Former National Champions Rod Perry of Port Orange, Fla., and Bob Sowards of Dublin, Ohio, shared fifth at 289 with Dustin Volk of Layton, Utah.

The low 20 scorers earned a berth in the 96th PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club, August 7-10, in Louisville, Ky.

Steve Schneiter of Sandy, Utah, the 1995 National Champion, earned his 12th PGA Championship trip after matching Esposito, at 69, for the best rounds of the day. Esposito, 51, will make his second PGA Championship trip.

“The goal every year is to make it to the PGA Championship,” said Schneiter, 50. “It will be nice to go back to Valhalla. I played there in the 1996 PGA Championship and I also played there in the PGA Professional National Championship in 2002. This course was hard. It's a major championship test.”

Karen Paolozzi, who closed with a 74, finished tied for 49th, which is the best overall performance by a woman PGA member in the National Championship. Suzy Whaley of Farmington, Conn., the first woman PGA member to make the cut in the Championship, tied for 64th in 2005.