Michael Block is in a truly unique position through three rounds of the 2023 PGA Championship. The PGA of America professional out of Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Orange County, California, is inside the top 10, playing with Rory McIlroy in the final round and just seven shots out of the lead -- the same deficit Justin Thomas faced in 2022 before going on to win.
No PGA of America professional -- and 20 get into the PGA Championship every year based on the results of the PGA of America Professional Championship -- has been in this position in more than 35 years.
Jay Overton was in solo second place through two rounds of the 1988 PGA Championship at Oak Tree and went on to finish T-17. In 183 at Riviera, Buddy Whitten was tied for fourth place after 36 holes and finished the championship T-27.
Has a PGA of America professional ever won the PGA Championship?
In the modern era of the PGA Championship and the PGA Tour -- going back to 1968 -- no PGA of America professional has won the PGA Championship.
Going back over the century-plus of the PGA Championship, teaching pros have won the tournament. This was back in the era before professional golf was both a lucrative career and something that wasn't frowned upon in golf society. In the earliest days of competitive golf, amateur players were considered superior to professional players because they had the means and money to compete at the biggest events instead of having to travel the country to scrape together money to make a career.
Many professional golfers were also teaching pros at places around the country, splitting time between giving lessons and working in the pro shop along with competing on the road.
Nowadays, 20 PGA of America professionals get into the PGA Championship by virtue of their finish in the PGA of America Professional Championship -- a tournament specifically designed to create playing opportunities for professional golfers that are not touring professionals. A golfer must finish in the top 20 of that tournament to earn a berth into the PGA Championship, which is how Michael Block found himself in this event. Typically, no more than two or three PGA of America professionals make the cut at the PGA Championship, making Block's accomplishment all the more special.