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The U.S. Open is golf at its toughest – if the weather plays along

Fans watch as Dustin Johnson hits his tee shot on the ninth hole during the third round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Chambers Bay on Saturday. (AP)
Fans watch as Dustin Johnson hits his tee shot on the ninth hole during the third round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Chambers Bay on Saturday. (AP)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • The U.S. Open is outside Pittsburgh this year, with the Fox sports guys immediately bringing up the supposedly poor memories from last year’s event at Chambers Bay. But they didn’t have much time to show golf. Nope. The horn sounded and the first round was delayed. Wow, they didn’t happen last year. Read on.

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• Say what you will about Chambers Bay – and the USGA made enough mistakes with the setup last year to ensure problems throughout the week for the players – but the weather in the South Sound didn’t include lightning strikes and pelting rain. Those weather conditions always seem to be the case when the U.S. Open is played in the Northeast. Some years, the June tournament – it is scheduled to end on Father’s Day each year – takes five days due to the dangerous nature of weather in places like western Pennsylvania and Long Island and New Jersey. That just doesn’t happen when the tournament is played at Pebble Beach or San Francisco’s Olympic Club or Torrey Pines or, yes, at Chambers Bay. If another is ever played in the Northwest. See, last year’s experience was not the best for the players. It wasn’t the overseers of the golf course’s fault, per se. They had a relatively new course about as ready as it could be until a blight hit a couple greens and they had to be redone. Then the USGA tried to make the greens too fast and they dried out in an unusually dry spring. The grass almost disappeared. But Chambers Bay will mature and become a great U.S. Open track, one that will tell us who the best player in the world is that week. Will it ever look like Oakmont or Merion or Baltusrol? No. But, like those courses, which have hosted more than dozen U.S. Opens between them, it is unique. And tough. But unlike those courses, you don’t have to worry about humidity, swarms of mosquitos and, most importantly, lightning delays.

• One problem with Chambers Bay, and one that needs to be fixed before the U.S. Open returns, is it is not spectator friendly. Neither are many of the U.S. Open courses, to be honest – I attended the 2009 championship at Bethpage Black and though the course was exquisite, the views were limited – but, due to the nature of Chambers Bay, it was not a fun experience for most last year. By the time the U.S. Open returns, it is something that will have to be addressed and rectified.

•••

• WSU: The best rivalry game in the Pac-12 this football season? That may just be the Apple Cup. ... The conference of quarterbacks will be looking for a few new starters this season.

• Chiefs: Spokane has an overabundance of overage players going into the season, though it has one less today. Tom Clouse has the story of Matt Sozanski’s trade to Moose Jaw.

• Mariners: We’re not angry anymore. Resigned is a better word. It looks as if the M’s promising start has gone the way of the past few years. That is, down the toilet. If it isn’t the bullpen imploding, it is the offense getting stuck in neutral, as was the case last night in Tampa, where the M’s lost 3-2 in 13 innings. The Rays won on a walk-off walk. Yep, a walk-off walk. ... Taijuan Walker is walking better and expects to be ready for his next start. ... Blake Snell grew up a Mariner fan. Now he will pitch against them.

• Seahawks: The mini-camp is going on this week and there have been some significant on-field developments any fan would like to know. But, of course, this time of year the off-field stuff is just as fun to follow. ... Russell Wilson wants to play until he is 40. ... Cliff Avril may be the most unsung good player Seattle has.

• Sounders: The team, sans Clint Dempsey, moved on in the U.S. Open Cup with a 2-0 home win at Starfire last night. ... The U.S. team, with Clint Dempsey, plays tonight in the quarterfinals of the Copa America at CenturyLink. The opponent: Ecuador. One advantage for the U.S.? The Seattle crowd, which will include one Grippi (no, not me).

•••

• There are a couple other things I would like to pass along. One is Jim Allen’s story on a triathlete with Spokane ties who will be at the Olympics. The other is tonight’s game six of the NBA finals. It is in Cleveland. The Warriors will be shorthanded again. Until later ...




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Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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