Florida Gators sophomore golfer Fred Biondi qualifies for 2022 U.S. Open

Craig Dolch
Special to TC Palm

JUPITER – Golf is such a crazy game. Just ask Fred Biondi.

The former Port St. Lucie resident was dejected when he walked off the course in Monday’s U.S. Open sectional qualifier at The Club at Admiral’s Cove.

Biondi had just shot a 4-under 67 – which would match Rickie Fowler for the low score in the afternoon round played in windy conditions – but coupled with his morning score of 72 to finish at 3-under 139, Biondi believed he had taken one too many strokes.

“I think 4 (-under) will be the number,” Biondi said. “At least I gave myself a good look at the 18th.”

Sixteen hours later, Biondi was in a far better mood. Three-under turned out to be the number.

The sophomore at the University of Florida is headed to next week’s U.S. Open and he didn’t even have to endure a playoff.

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Fred Biondi

Just a long night after a lightning delay led to a suspension of play Monday with three golfers still on the course. Two of those players had a chance to tie Biondi at 3-under, but when play resumed early Tuesday morning, neither did.

Biondi had qualified for his first major championship. It certainly won’t be his last.

This is what Biondi had in mind when who moved to the Treasure Coast from Brazil a decade ago to chase his dream of playing golf for a living.

He’s well on his way to living that dream. Biondi was recently chosen a PING All-American after his sophomore season where he helped lead the Gators to a 10th-place finish at the NCAA National Championships. Biondi will likely play another year at UF, then turn professional.

But first he gets to taste what it’s like to play against the world’s best golfers in a major championship next week at The Country Club in Brookline, MA.

“I’m just trying to get better,” Biondi said, “that’s all I can do, all I can control. I can’t get caught up in results. Just chipping away, learning everything you can.”

And roll with the craziness.

Vero Beach’s Collet comes close: Tyler Collet was trying to qualify for his third major championship in the last 14 months, a feat made more amazing when you consider the PGA Assistant Professional at John’s Island Club has played in only one regular PGA Tour event.

Alas, Collet shot rounds of 68-73 in Monday’s qualifier at Admiral’s Cove to finish two strokes out of a playoff for the final spot into next week’s U.S. Open.

Collet would have made it had he not twice double-bogeyed the par-3 fourth hole on the West Course. He also made 10 birdies, an eagle, five bogeys and a double bogey on a par-5.

Collet showed grit at last month’s PGA Championship at Southern Hills when he rebounded from an opening 81 to shoot 70 in the second round on a very difficult course.

“It’s more tolerable,” Collet said of coming close Monday. “This just gives me reason to be more confident in my game. I know I can play with these guys.

“Am I disappointed not to make it? Did I wish I could have played a little better? Sure, but sometimes that’s how the cookie crumbles.”

Chip shots: Amateur Joe Latowski of Port St. Lucie was a respectable 2-over after 24 holes Monday before struggling on his back nine. He withdrew with two holes left after a lightning delay made it unlikely he would finish his round.