Former University of Missouri–St. Louis golfer Michael Block has added another accolade to his already impressive resume. Last week, the Professional Golfers’ Association of America named Block its 2022 PGA of America PGA Professional of the Year.
Block, who played at UMSL during the 1996-97 season after transferring from Mississippi State, now serves as the head professional at the Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo, California. He first qualified for the PGA Championship in 2014, the same year he won the 47th PGA Professional Championship at Dunes Golf and Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
After the win, Block spoke to UMSLTritons.com and offered other Division II players aspiring to play at the professional level some advice and encouragement.
“Put yourself around positive people, not only in the game but in life in general,” Block said. “Your coach and teammates should be nothing but positive reinforcement for your game and mental attitude. I’ve seen great golfers lose their game when having negative influences and at the same time I’ve seen average golfers turn into some of the best players in the world.
“I wasn’t even the No. 1 guy on my team when I was at UMSL. Dustin Ashby was the team’s top golfer, and I learned a lot from him and I still use a putting tip he gave to me almost 20 years ago. I do not care if it is a Division I or Division II school, everything happens for a reason. Just learn from your mistakes and never lose your confidence.”
Since that time, Block has made three other PGA Championship appearances, including the 2018 contest at the Bellerive Country Club in Town and Country, Missouri, a few miles from where he grew up. He also qualified for the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Shinnecock Hills, New York, and was a member of the 2015 U.S. PGA Cup team.
However, those accomplishment pale in comparison to a highlight-filled 2022, which also included winning Southern California PGA Player of the Year and the Southern California PGA Professional Championship en route to earning the 2022 PGA Professional Player of the Year Award.
In April, Block finished T-2 in the PGA Professional Championship at Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas. He recorded rounds of 66-69-70-73 to finish at 5-under-par 278 and earn a spot in the PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club last May – his first since 2018 at Bellerive.
He also earned a spot on the U.S. team at the 30th PGA Cup at Foxhills Club & Resort in Surrey, England, in September. He rallied from a four-hole deficit in the opening singles match on the final day to earn a crucial point and help the U.S. team win its first overseas PGA Cup since 2009.
Block concluded his sterling 2022 by winning the PGA Tournament Series event at the PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida, in December. He birdied the first playoff hole to defeat Vince Drahman after finishing at 10-under-par 134.
“This was one of my last bucket list dreams,” Block said in a press release. “That’s why I made it a priority to make it to Florida to seal it up. Once I did have the lead, I didn’t want to lose it again like I have in the past by not playing in the Tournament Series events. I have very supportive management at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club. There’s no way I could have done this and been gone as much as I am from home if I didn’t have my wife and kids support me as well.”
Block notched 1,007.50 points to receive the first national award of his career. Jesse Mueller of Phoenix finished second with 825.00 and Ryan Vermeer of Omaha, Nebraska, was third with 812.50. Additionally, Sandra Changkija won Women’s PGA Professional Player of the Year, while Bob Sowards won Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year.