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Community Sports

Pin High: Golfers solve STC’s Royal Hawk, move on to Ill. Open

On Monday, Royal Hawk Country Club in St. Charles hosted the fourth of seven qualifiers for next month’s Illinois Open.
On Monday, Royal Hawk Country Club in St. Charles hosted the fourth of seven qualifiers for next month’s Illinois Open.

Thirteen players earned berths to next month’s Illinois Open at The Glen Club in Glenview by shining at Monday’s qualifier at Royal Hawk Country Club in St. Charles.

A few notes from the Chronicle-area golfers among that set, which includes Milo French of Sugar Grove and St. Charles products Matthew Triplett and Chris Niemiec:

Playing with a heavy heart: Niemiec advanced to his first open just six days after his mother, Suzanne, died from ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease, at age 50.

Her funeral was Saturday.

Shooting a 3-over-par 75 with his father, Ed, as his caddy, Niemiec defeated Jason Pinns and Matt Fazio in a playoff to take the final qualifying spot.

“I’ve been working at it for the last year and a half pretty hard,” Niemiec said. “I didn’t play great, but I played well enough, so it was good.”

A St. Charles East alumnus, Niemiec played collegiately at Bradley for a time before recently gaining professional status.

“I was definitely looking forward to the tournament,” he said.

The 64th annual Illinois Open will be held July 22 to 24.

Well-equipped: Golf osmosis had nothing to do with French’s area-leading 71 – three shots behind medalist Drew Chuipek of Algonquin – although that’s still a fair question.

A former Kaneland standout, French has spent the past year-plus as a hard goods supervisor at the PGA Tour Superstore, beginning at the Downers Grove location before recently transferring to Schaumburg.

“I like it,” French said. “It’s kind of a golf nerd’s dream, so to say. I definitely am very into the equipment aspect of golf and how everything works.”

That figured, as French credited his round to holding steady. His biggest flub came when he hit a shot out of bounds on No. 18, but the double bogey didn’t do much damage in the face of six birdies.

“Just wasn’t making many mistakes,” French said. “ Really had one bad hole and that was the 18th. Other than that, I played pretty solid tee to green, putted pretty well. Really happy with how I played that round.”

Lower riders: Royal Hawk associate golf professional Brian Carroll and Royal Hawk/Royal Fox director of golf and player development Brian Groszek receive exemptions into the open.

Their investment in the proceedings still didn’t waver, especially given the trend of higher scores when Royal Hawk hosted qualifiers in 2007 and 2010.

The course isn’t particularly long, but most holes offer well-placed challenges that keep big numbers in play.

“Any time you’re in a qualifier, there’s the pressure of you wanting to play well so you can make it to the championship you’re trying to qualify for,” Carroll said. “But when you know what the number is, you’re always thinking about that in the back of your head

“Golf can play with your mind a little, and when you get to be 3-over at one point and you might learn that 3-over will be the cut, then hey, you know you can’t really have margin for more error.”

• Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or


Biddle leaves UNLV; plays at club in Rhode Island

St. Charles resident and Wheaton Academy product Blake Biddle requested and received his release from Nevada-Las Vegas in late April.
The incoming college senior since has resurfaced on the tournament circuit, and Wednesday carded a 9-over-par 78 in the opening round of the Northeast Amateur at Wannamoisett Country Club in East Providence, R.I.

Rich Harvest lands another international event

Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove added to its growing list of events earlier this month when it landed the 2015 Palmer Cup, an international collegiate competition pitting players from the United States and Europe.

The format recalls what arguably is Rich Harvest’s most high-profile hosting role to date, the 2009 Solheim Cup that also features the Americans vs. Europeans format for professional women players.
The U.S. topped Europe, 20.5 to 9.5, in this year’s Palmer Cup, held June 7 to 9 at Wilmington (Del.) Country Club.

Pottawatomie tourney  season starts July 9

The summer tournament lineup at Pottawatomie Golf Course in St. Charles begins with the July 9 STC Women’s Tournament, an event that enjoyed a spike in participation last summer when course pro Ron Skubisz and assistant Bill Ogiego made it part of the Tuesday women’s league schedule.

A week later, tournaments for the city’s Little Guys & Gals (July 16) and Junior players (July 17 to 18) follow before the three-weekend Men’s Tournament, which opens July 27 to 28 and concludes Aug. 10 to 11.

– Kevin Druley,

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