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Pin High: Busy Biddle braces for Amateur

Published: Thursday, July 17, 2014 10:31 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, July 17, 2014 10:36 p.m. CDT
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(Photo provided by Arkansas Communications)
Another busy summer for St. Charles resident and Wheaton Academy product Blake Biddle includes a spot in next month's U.S. Amateur in Atlanta.

Blake Biddle excelled on one golf course he had never seen before to advance to another with which he is unfamiliar.

"A lot of it's just kind of plotting my way around the course and figuring out my best chance," he said. "Golf's a lot of trying to play the percentages."

By scheduling a heavy itinerary for yet another summer, Biddle, a St. Charles resident and Wheaton Academy alum, aimed to increase his odds of advancing to the U.S. Amateur, a feat he accomplished last week.

On July 11, Biddle earned the third and final qualifying spot to the event with a 36-hole score of 139 at Channahon's Heritage Bluffs Golf Club, six strokes behind the leader and one ahead of a potential four-way playoff.

He's set to descend on the Aug. 11 to 17 Amateur at the Atlanta Athletic Club's Highlands Course, his third Amateur in four years. Here's a look at some other Biddle developments:

From the Strip to Sooie: Biddle transferred from Nevada-Las Vegas to Arkansas after three seasons following the 2012-13 school year.

What happens in Vegas stays there, indeed.

The 2010-11 Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year, Biddle eventually grew weary of UNLV's glitzy Strip surroundings, calling some aspects of the experience like "glorified community college," with one caveat.

"Unless you want to get in trouble," he said, "and that wasn't an option for me."

He chose Arkansas in part for its ambiance, citing his love of college sports and the school's participation in the storied Southeastern Conference. Limited by mononucleosis for much of his final season, Biddle averaged 77.9 in 15 rounds with the Razorbacks in 2013-14, with a low round of 69.

Biddle closed his collegiate career at the NCAA championships in Hutchinson, Kansas, in May, helping the Razorbacks tie for 18th in the team race.

He's set to rejoin the program as a graduate assistant next season while finishing his degree in agricultural economics.

Course of action: Biddle's best U.S. Amateur effort remains his debut. In 2011, he placed second in the stroke-play portion of the event at Wisconsin's Erin Hills before advancing to the third round of match play.

Erin Hills will host the U.S. Open in 2017, one of a handful of courses Biddle has played that have or will see big-ticket tournaments.

"That's always fun," Biddle said. "You always love watching that when you've played there and they show a hole on TV and you can visualize it for yourself and you can hopefully remember the good shots you hit instead of the bad ones."

Secret of the pros: While he is restraining himself from thinking too far ahead now, Biddle plans to explore possible avenues into turning pro as the school year progresses.

He got acclimated to some of those potential rigors by playing in several out-of-state tournaments in past summers. Biddle elected to stay close to Illinois and the midwest in 2014.

"It's not bad. The last couple summers have been way worse," he said. "Traveling all around, playing the top amateur stuff nationally was kind of a grind. This time I wanted to take a step back and be closer to home. ... Especially because as I get ready for the next step of turning pro, I know I'm going to be traveling a lot."

• Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or kdruley@shawmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @kevindruley.

CHIP-INS

RHF, Sugar Grove crew heading east

A seven-member contingent from Rich Harvest Farms and Sugar Grove will attend next week's inaugural LPGA International Crown match-play event at Caves Valley in Maryland for a preview of what's coming to RHF in 2016.

From RHF: president Jerry Rich, general manager Keith Rich, communications manager Samantha Rubin and sales member Alex Kline-Weeden will attend.

Sugar Grove officials Sean Michels (mayor), Brent Eichelberger (village administrator) and Pat Rollins (police chief) are set to join them.

The Crown features teams from the United States, South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Spain, Sweden, Chinese Taipei and Australia. The event seeks to capture the worldly reach of women’s golf more efficiently than the complementary U.S.-versus-Europe Solheim Cup, which RHF hosted in 2009.

Robinson aces Tanna Farms

Four Marmion alumni, 72 combined holes, one ace.

The foursome of Rob Robinson, Mike Alger, Ed Garrity and Dan Soliz still is beaming about Robinson's hole-in-one during a June 6 round at Geneva's Tanna Farms Golf Club.

Using an 8-iron on the Par-3, 145-yard No. 11 hole, Robinson, of Bristol, added to an already memorable round for the longtime friends with his feat.

"I've never been around anybody with a hole-in-one," said Soliz, of Batavia, "and I'm getting older now, so when you see that ball go in, you go crazy."

– Kevin Druley, kdruley@shawmedia.com

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