Healthy Biddle a shot in arm for Hogs

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Arkansas coach Brad McMakin (left) is coaching the Razorbacks in their fourth NCAA championship in the last six years.
Photo by Arkansas Athletic Communications
Arkansas coach Brad McMakin (left) is coaching the Razorbacks in their fourth NCAA championship in the last six years.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Blake Biddle's long, difficult spring on the Arkansas men's golf team is headed toward a better ending.

Biddle, a senior transfer from UNLV, struggled with mononucleosis in January and then had appendicitis that kept him out of tournaments all spring. But Biddle has regained his health and has rejoined the surging No. 11 Razorbacks' lineup this week as Arkansas heads for the NCAA Championships.

"It was a tough spring, for sure, but the game feels great, honestly," said Biddle, who had to go nearly four weeks without hitting a ball. "I feel completely healthy and played great at the U.S. Open qualifying last week."

Biddle tied for third in a U.S. Open local qualifier in St. Louis on May 13 and Coach Brad McMakin plugged him into the fifth spot behind senior Sebastian Cappelen and sophomores Kolton Crawford, Taylor Moore and Nicolas Echavarria.

"He had appendicitis this semester and had to get a little surgery," McMakin said. "He's back playing well. He's got a lot of experience. Blake's almost won the U.S. Amateur and was an All-American at UNLV, so hopefully he'll take that experience and help us this week."

Biddle had two top 10 NCAA regional finishes during his first two seasons at UNLV.

"He's got great spirit," Cappelen said. "Having him back is great. He played great at the U.S. Open qualifier and made it through sectionals, which is promising for us. I know he's going to be great."

The Razorbacks will tee of at 1:30 p.m. Friday along with Alabama-Birmingham and Houston in the 30-team field at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan., at the NCAA Championships.

Arkansas is coming off a second-place finish at the NCAA Columbia Regional last weekend that featured a school-record 18 under in the second round.

The foursome of Cappelen, Crawford, Echavarria and Moore accounted for all 12 counting rounds as part of Arkansas' 28-under total. Freshman Zach Coats of Fayetteville shot 12 over in the regional.

Crawford, of Mansfield, Texas, tied for second in U.S. Open local qualifying at The Colony Texas, on Monday.

Sports on 05/21/2014