Michael Block of Mission Viejo has received the 2023 PGA of America Men’s Player of the Year Award, claiming the prize for the second consecutive year.
The 47-year-old Block, head PGA professional at Arroyo Trabuco Hills Golf Club in Mission Viejo, became the first player to claim the award two years in a row since Ryan Vermeer of Happy Hollow Club in Omaha, Neb., won it in 2018 and 2019.
“It’s very surreal for this to happen at 46-47 years young,” said Block, who claimed his fourth career and second consecutive Southern California PGA Section Championship in September at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, which earned him the SCPGA Player of the Year Award for the 10th time in 11 years.
“I’m not really playing any differently than I always have. It just happened at the right moments for me this year. It’s not like I found some secret code or something. It happened to be where the course set up well for me. I read the greens nicely. The fairways were firm and fast. Everything lined up at Oak Hill and I’m not expecting to do that ever again. At the same time if it happens again in any event at all, I’ll be very happy.
“I was never in my life thinking: ‘Let’s try to do this twice.’ I had this as a goal in life to win it one time. I happened to play well in two important events, the national club pro and the PGA Championship. I’m lucky enough to get it two times in a row.”
Block also tied for second in the PGA Professional Championship at Twin Warriors and Santa Ana Golf Clubs in Santa Ana in Pueblo, New Mexico, and tied for 15th in the PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y., where he made a hole in one on the 151-yard 15th hole.
Stephanie Connelly-Eiswerth of San Jose Country Club in Jacksonville, Fla., claimed the PGA of America Women’s Player of the Year Award after finishing second in the PGA Women’s Stroke Play Championship, the North Florida PGA Section Championship and the NFPGA Professional Championship.
“You hate to lose, but I came out of it feeling really good about my game,” Connelly-Eiswerth said of those events. “I was motivated to keep giving myself chances throughout the year. It gave me a little extra confidence that I’m doing some good things with my game, learning a lot, and it was fun. That put me on a good path for the rest of the year.”
Connelly-Eiswerth finished the year on a high note by recording a historic victory at the PGA Tournament Series Event No. 1, becoming the first woman to win a PGA Tournament Series event against the men in its 46-year history.
Bob Sowards, PGA Director of Instruction at Kinsale Golf and Fitness Club in Powell, Ohio, claimed his third consecutive and fifth career Senior PGA Professional Player of the Year Award, in addition to winning the PGA Professional Player of the Year Award a record four times.
Sowards has captured a PGA of America record nine yearly titles.