Veteran Team of 20 Players Return with a Smile
Club Professional Tyler Collet is the boxer climbing groggily off the canvas this week at Southern Hills, home to the 104th PGA Championship. The best part? He is doing it with a smile.
Collet, 26, an Assistant Professional at John’s Island Club in Vero Beach, Fla., played his first PGA Championship last spring at Kiawah Island Resort’s Ocean Course and got swallowed up in the difficult winds. He shot 88-82, which beat but one player in the field, John Daly. If you thought Collet might not have an appetite to return to the championship anytime soon, it might be understandable. Then again, you don’t know Tyler Collet.
Know this: Collet can play. A graduate from the PGA Golf Management Program at Eastern Kentucky, he won the South Florida PGA Section’s Professional Championship in 2021, and qualified for the Puerto Rico Open the same year. Collet made the most out of his difficult week at Kiawah, using it to make a considerable shift in how he approaches his craft.
He is back, and feels fresh, for another go at the PGA Championship at Southern Hills, having tied for 11th at the PGA Professional Championship in Texas. One year makes a big difference.
“Last year was tough for me, but I feel that I know that my game is in a better spot,” Collet said. “My coach (former touring pro Sal Spallone) is here, he’s been working hard on me. He knows the ropes out here, and he knows me.”
Collet believes he knows himself a little better, too, after returning home from the PGA Championship and giving deep thought to how he could alter his hard-edged, non-forgiving approach to golf.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself mentally, and physically, on my game,” he said. “My wife sat me down and said, ‘You know, you’re just putting too much pressure on yourself, you need to take a step back, and think about it.’”
She asked Tyler why he plays the game.
He thought about the question for a moment, then answered, “I play this game because I love it – but that’s what it is, it’s a game, and I need to treat it as such.”
There are eight members of this year’s #TeamOf20 who have competed in previous PGA Championships. This is Michael Block’s fourth start at the PGA. He has played in six majors total (adding the 2007 and 2018 U.S. Opens) and has one main goal left on his plate: He’d like to make the cut and be the low PGA Professional.
Honestly, though, Block is much more amped up to think about the experience ahead for his 17-year-old son, Dylan, who is a nice player in his own right. Dylan was on the bag for Michael when dad tied for second at the PGA Professional Championship, an event he won in 2014, and will caddie this week.
The Blocks already have had a hectic few days. Dylan played in the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball in Birmingham, Ala., where his father pitched in to help him map out the course for three days. Michael moved on to Tulsa, and when Dylan and his partner failed to qualify for match play, Dylan caught a late flight Sunday to Tulsa, with Michael there at midnight to pick him up.
“It’s been a crazy week already,” Block said. “Two majors, sort of, you know? More than anything I want him (Dylan) to learn from his time here. He wants to be a PGA Professional one day. In my mind, this is the best practice ground in the world for him, to see what he needs to do, to see how good he needs to be, in order to be here one day himself.”
There is a common theme among the veteran Professionals who have been here before: Each experience is about learning, and then packing up the experience and memories to bring back and share with their club members.
For Collet, whose biggest strength is his putting, his week at Southern Hills also will be about gauging progress as he concentrates on not being so demanding on himself.
“I hope so,” Collet said. “I feel like it already. I’m not in shock and awe like I was last year. I know how this works now.”
He smiled once more. “I’m a fast learner.”