Wheaton Academy boys golf coach Bob Broman figured he might as well have fun with all of Friday’s drama – Blake Biddle was.
Biddle, a Wheaton Academy grad from St. Charles, took part in a match-play classic on Friday in the round of 16 at the U.S. Amateur, finally falling to Texan Kelly Kraft in a 23-hole rumble.
Broman has been in regular touch with Biddle throughout his sizzling week at the U.S. Amateur at Erin Hills in Wisconsin.
“ ‘This is great fun’ – that’s what he texted back to me last night,” Broman said on Friday afternoon. “I told him there were a lot of people at Wheaton Academy following him stroke by stroke. ... And he just told me, he was having fun.”
Until Friday’s sour conclusion, Biddle’s backers enjoyed a thrill-filled week. Competing against elite amateurs from around the country, Biddle finished second in the stroke play portion of the tournament. He then won a pair of matches on Thursday, including one that started Wednesday and was resumed the next day.
Broman said Biddle’s triumphs at the U.S. Amateur haven’t been much of a surprise after Biddle’s strong start to his college career last year at the UNLV. His high school career at Wheaton Academy included a course-record round of 63 at St. Andrews in West Chicago.
“He’s a tremendous talent,” Broman said of Biddle, who narrowly missed qualifying for the U.S. Open this summer at a sectional played at St. Charles Country Club. “He had probably the most drive of any player I’ve ever coached.”
Broman tracked Biddle’s progress, hole-by-hole, on Friday on the United States Golf Association website. Despite the tough ending, Biddle demonstrated how much he has progressed in the short time since graduating from Wheaton Academy in 2010.
“He definitely hits the ball farther and he’s also learned to eliminate half of the golf course by learning how to shape his shot and aim to one side of the fairway,” Broman said. “And then his short game, he’s always had a good short game, but now it’s really solid.”
With Biddle and fellow standout David Flynn leading the way, Wheaton Academy tied Normal University for a Class 2A state title in 2009.
The Warriors have another loaded team this season, and the St. Charles connection continues to aid the Warriors’ cause. Senior Elio Vento and junior Danny Gryfinski, both of St. Charles, are among the talented crop.
“We don’t have anyone that can go [as low as Biddle and Flynn] but we have four really solid players that in every major tournament are going to shoot in the 70s for us,” Broman said. “We’re hoping to make a good, solid run at the end of the season and play our best at that time.”
North freshman tabbed for tryout: St. Charles North freshman baseball player Cory Wright nabbed an invitation to represent the Great Lakes Region 15U team in the 2011 U.S. Baseball National Team Identification Series. He is headed to the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C., on Sept. 8-11 in hopes of earning a spot at the 2012 USA Baseball National Team Trials.
Wright is a left-handed pitcher and left-handed hitting first baseman.
• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.