"What It’s Really Like to Play in a Major Championship" — Michael Block
This is the day that you dream of growing up as a little kid—getting the chance to compete at the highest level with the best golfers in the world. This is the reason you put in all the time on the range, the reason you hit hundreds of 5-footers in a row before leaving, the reason you grind day in and day out.
This is the moment—this is the opportunity to play in a Major Championship.
— — —
Being a PGA Professional, I get the opportunity to compete on a regular basis against really good golfers, but to play at the highest level against the best players in the game is nothing short of surreal.
I was walking down the 5th fairway during a practice round on Wednesday and looked over to my left and I saw the #2 player in the world, Dustin Johnson, bombing it down the 18th fairway. Intimidating? Yes. Intimidated? No. With this being my 3rd major championship and 11th overall Tour event, I feel like I belong out here with the best ball strikers in the game.
Preparation is a huge key to any tournament, but it is even more important when gearing up to take on the extremely tough test that Baltusrol GC presents. Out here, there’s one thing that I did learn quickly—don’t overdo it. You don’t want to get tired and beat up heading into Thursday, so I’ve been managing my reps this week to make sure I’m peaking at the right time.
Here’s a breakdown of my prep work leading up to Thursday:
- Range Session to get loose
- Play 18 holes to get familiar with the track and get my lines down off the tee
- Range Session early in the morning
- Putting Green to get a feel for the speed and subtle breaks
- 9 holes (front nine) to really start dialing in spots to be on the green and analyze where potential pin placements could be
- Range Session (this is where I start dialing in all of my yardages and shot-shapes)
- Short game practice
- 9 holes (back nine) to pick out all of my target lines off the tee and start envisioning myself playing during the tournament
- Quick range session to relax and hone in on wedge distances
- Putting green to get a feel for the speed (greens tend to speed up as the week goes on)
- Range Session to get loose and perfect my shot-shaping
- 9 holes (front nine) to focus as if I am teeing it up in the tournament to start getting my mind in the right place
- Range Session - working through my whole bag from 60° to driver and make sure my mind is focused and I am 100% confident heading into my tee time on Thursday
The night before you tee it up in any tournament, let alone a Major Championship, there is a lot running through your mind. I keep my mind off of golf as much as I can because I know that the preparation that I put into my game, all of the hours on the range beating balls, and the hours grinding on an imperfection are going to pay off. My caddie and I have this course mapped out perfectly, and I know when and where to pick my spots. Trust the process and envision success.
My mind is right and my game is ready, it’s time to get after it.
You can never really predict how your body and mind are going to react to being under the spotlight with 100,000 people watching your every move. Some people in my position get nervous and can’t control it, others relish in it, better yet—they live for it. I like to think I am one of the few that relishes it.
It’s time to hit the tee and get this PGA Championship underway.
I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t nervous walking up to the 10th tee box (my 1st hole), but this is what I play for: to feel the nerves and challenge myself to overcome everything my mind is telling me not to do.
Adrenaline is pumping, hands are a little sweaty, but it’s time to pull the trigger.
“Please Welcome from Mission Viejo, California — Michael Block.”
It’s Go Time.
Adrenaline. Nerves. Anxiety. Pressure. You name it and it’s running through your body.
You feel pressure on every shot when you play under the spotlight out here, but you must block it out and play golf. My front nine started out extremely smooth, making par on my first 4 holes, then making a nice 10-footer for birdie on the 14th. Once that first birdie of the week went in, it helped me calm me down and get into it. I had a solid front nine (on Baltusrol’s back nine), fired 1-under 34 and now it’s off to the super-tough front.
Stuck it to about 5 feet from 150 on hole #2 to pick-up another good birdie. Now I’m sitting at (-2) and T3 for the tourney. That’s when it starts to get real and when you start to believe in yourself.
I can do this. I can play with the games best. It’s just golf, I grew up playing this game.
The wind started to pick up when we were walking down the 3rd fairway. We were dead into the teeth of it heading home for the final 5 holes—just absolutely brutal par 4s all weighing in at over 450 yards. I dropped a few shots during that tough stretch, making bogeys on 4, 5, and 7, but hung in there and grinded it out.
That is the reason Major championships are Major championships. They are the toughest test in golf and you have to stay patient and take the punches in a positive way. Every single guy is out there grinding it out, trying to move up the leaderboard, but staying up and being in a positive mindset sets apart success from failure.
Every guy is getting bad breaks, every guy is missing putts, it’s how you react to those negativities that separates the top and bottom of the leaderboard.
I entered the clubhouse at 2-over par (72), and I’m looking forward to getting back into the thick of it on Friday and making a move up the leaderboard.
This is right where I belong, playing with the world’s best and battling it out at the 98th PGA Championship.
Time to Grind. Time to Dig Deep. Time to make the weekend