Sports

Michael Block on first-round 81 at Colonial: ‘wasn’t surprised by it’

FORT WORTH, Texas — California club pro Michael Block was living the dream at the PGA Championship. Thursday at Colonial brought him back to reality.

A sensation at Oak Hill when he tied for 15th against the strongest field in golf, Block opened with three straight bogeys and finished with three double bogeys over his last four holes of an 11-over 81 that left him in last place and 19 shots behind Harry Hall in the Charles Schwab Challenge.

Block received a sponsor exemption — he has one for the RBC Canadian Open next week, too — after his amazing week at the PGA Championship.

He was on “CBS This Morning,” received a text from Michael Jordan and signed with WME Sports.

“I’ve got nothing,” he said to himself after a tee shot on the 13th barely cleared the water and finished on the back left of a green that had a front right pin.

“If you are a golfer, you’ve had the day I’ve had,” Block said after his worst score by seven shots in the four PGA Tour-level events he has played this year. “You understand the facts of where the lies aren’t good and the trees are in your way every time. Even your good shots are bad, your bad shots are worse.

“It is what it is. I’m going to live with it,” he said. “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.”

Hall had a dream start. The PGA Tour rookie from England took only 22 putts, the last one an 8-foot birdie for an 8-under 62 that gave him a three-shot lead over Harris English.

Along with his eight birdies, Hall made par putts of 15 and 30 feet.

Tom Hoge, who played his college golf at TCU and now makes Fort Worth his home, holed out for eagle from the seventh fairway on his way to a 66.

Scottie Scheffler, who returned to No. 1 in the world with his tie for second at the PGA Championship, and defending champion Sam Burns were in the large group at 67. Jordan Spieth didn’t make his lone birdie until the eighth hole and opened with a 72.

Hall changed up his routine this week by playing 36 holes of practice at Colonial — a Monday pro-am and then nine holes on Tuesday and Wednesday. That helps, along with his putter.

“Maybe that’s the key, just to see a bit more of the course than I have done in the past,” Hall said. “I didn’t do too much different. I kind of just made things a little bit more simple.”

He missed seven greens and played those holes in 1 under, the biggest a chip-in for birdie from about 80 feet on the 12th hole.

“I was really in the moment out there and determined to play some good golf,” Hall said. “The 7 out of 7 scrambles doesn’t really surprise me because that’s the best part of my game, but the way I hit the ball the first two-thirds of that round was pretty special.”

Block has been on quite a ride the last six days. He made the cut at the PGA Championship, played with Justin Rose on Saturday and Rory McIlroy on Sunday. The 46-year-old head pro at Arroyo Trabuco in Mission Viejo, California, turned in a performance as memorable as Brooks Koepka winning his fifth major.

He made a hole-in-one on the 15th hole, and his closing from deep rough gave him a tie for 15th and an automatic spot in next year’s PGA Championship.

And then he came crashing back to earth after a week so busy he only saw Colonial one time before Thursday. But he wasn’t giving up just yet.

“I’m looking forward to coming out tomorrow and playing a great round and giving it everything I have,” he 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.”

Hoge, who was raised in North Dakota, is so passionate about his Horned Frogs that he flew from Maui to Los Angeles to watch TCU in the college football champions game (a blowout loss to Georgia) and then flew back to Hawaii for the Sony Open.

He got off to a decent start until his round stalled. It came to life on No. 6 when his approach settled inches away from the cup. And then on the seventh, he hit 8-iron from 157 yards straight into the cup for an eagle.

It’s just the start he needed after missing the cut at Colonial the last three times.

“The last few years, I really struggled on Thursday then kind of fought back on Friday to try to make the cut,” Hoge said. “It was certainly a focus this year to try to get off to a good start, try to be a little more patient and letting the round come to me. Making a few birdies off the bat was really nice.”

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