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Michael Block has explained comments he made comparing his game to that of Rory McIlroy, insisting he meant no disrespect to the Irishman.
Block charmed the golf world when he finished in a tie for 15th at the US PGA Championship in May, a performance that included a slam dunk hole-in-one in the company of McIlroy during the final round.
However, a large section of social media was quick to turn on him following comments he made about the four-time major champion on Bob Menery’s RipperMagoo Podcast.
Block said he would be “one of the best players in the world, hands down” if he was able to drive the ball like McIlroy.
“What I would shoot from where Rory hits it would be stupid,” he said. “My iron game, wedge game, around the greens and my putting is world class.”
The comments drew widespread criticism and derision but, speaking to bunkered.co.uk at Dundonald Links ahead of contesting Open Final Qualifying on Tuesday, Block explained what he meant by them.
“Number one, I was throwing zero shade at Rory, that’s for darn sure,” said the 47-year-old Californian. “I respect that guy so much it’s ridiculous, from his personality to his family to his golf game, obviously, and how he treated me at Oak Hill was unbelievable.
“So, the comment had nothing to do with Rory whatsoever. It was more about gaining 60 to 70 yards off a tee shot, where would I be at that point? As good as Rory? No. But would I be unbelievably better than I am now having five or six less clubs into every hole?
“For me to be hitting a gap wedge into par-4s instead of 4- and 5-irons like I do, my stroke average would go down a lot.
“Right now, I think I’m ranked 580th on the world rankings or something like that. Would I be higher ranked? I’d be a lot higher ranked with that yardage. But that’s not a possibility. There’s just no chance. It would never happen.
“I could start working out and do speed training or whatever else and I’d be lucky to add ten yards, so it was a far-fetched thought.
He added: “Am I confident in my short game? Absolutely. Am I confident with my game? I am. Am I at the level of Rory McIlroy? I’m not even close. Like, literally, not even close. So, all I was saying was, if I had an 60 less yards into every hole for the rest of my life, I’d be a whole hell of a lot better than I am right now.
— Dundonald Links (@DundonaldLinks) July 2, 2023
“I’m not even in the same realm as these guys, and certainly not Rory McIlroy, so that was taken so far out of context and I’m sure it was my fault, and obviously I apologise for that. It was nothing I meant to do whatsoever.”
Block also opened up on rumours that his US PGA heroics had made him a target for LIV Golf.
“I’ve heard different things,” he admitted. “I did a couple of texts from LIV officials that weren’t offers or anything like that but were just saying, ‘Great playing’. From out of nowhere. Very strange but no, no offers or anything like that.”
Would he consider an offer, though? He doesn’t think it will ever come to that, given the proposed merger between the PGA Tour and PIF, but admits it would be a hard to turn down.
“Like it was with some of the other guys, if it’s something where it could affect my family in a very positive manner, it would be a tough thing not to do,” he admitted.
“I just hope everyone works together and it becomes a whole lot more cohesive.”
Block has Alex Wrigley and TK Chantananuwat for company in Open qualifying at Dundonald Links on Tuesday. He gets his first round under way at 7.20am with his second scheduled to start at 1.05pm.