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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Grip on Sports: There’s so much happening in the world of sports, we need to stay positive or we may get kicked out

The last time the U.S. Open championship was settled by an 18-hole playoff was in 2008 at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego. Tigers Woods, right, beat Rocco Mediate, left, in 19 holes for his 14th major title. (Matt Slocum / AP)
The last time the U.S. Open championship was settled by an 18-hole playoff was in 2008 at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego. Tigers Woods, right, beat Rocco Mediate, left, in 19 holes for his 14th major title. (Matt Slocum / AP)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • It seems like a good morning to cover a lot of ground, quickly. Let’s travel from basketball to golf, from the baseball field to the courts and everywhere in between. Read on.


• The USGA has decided to make a change. No more 18-hole playoffs on Monday. Nope. If its tournaments, including the U.S. Open, are tied, there is going to be a two-hole showdown followed by sudden death.

The tournament will be finished on Sunday.

That’s too bad. Yes, I know this is something television has wanted for a long time. And yes, other majors have a somewhat similar tiebreaking procedure. But the U.S. Open has always been different, always a bit off the beaten track. But it’s starting to be more like the State Farm Open and less like the outlier it used to be.

What’s wrong with a day of Monday golf every decade or so? For that matter, what’s wrong with tradition? It wasn’t broke – except for the networks – so why fiddle with it?

• Staying with golf, we just wanted to let Justin Thomas know that yelling “get into the trap” can be a positive statement. Haven’t you ever listened to the TV announcers tell you the rough is so deep, it’s better to be in the trap?

So maybe the guy at the Honda Classic had your best interests at heart. Besides, getting heckled a bit can harden your resolve. Just ask Tiger Woods. He was heckled a lot and not in such a genteel manner. Dealing with it helped him become the second-greatest golfer of all time.

Wait, would I get kicked off the course for calling him “the second-greatest?” Maybe we should check with Thomas. He seems to be the emperor of golf these days.

• In Tucson, the basketball coach is on the sidelines, derailed by reports of an alleged bribe to help recruit a program-changing player.

In San Diego, the basketball coach is on the sidelines, derailed by an arrest for assault that allegedly occurred in a hotel room.

What the heck is going on here?

College basketball coaches are supposed to leaders of young men. You know, like former University of Idaho coach Larry Eustachy.

• We were right yesterday. Whitworth, which is ranked second nationally in this week’s poll, will have to get past the top ranked team in the nation, Whitman, on its home court to advance to the NCAA Division III Sweet 16.

How do you think it would go over if Michigan State had to play Virginia in the second-round of the NCAA tournament next month – in Charlottesville? Think Dick Vitale would have something to say?

• By the way, looking at the top five schools in the D3hoops poll, we noticed something odd. They are, in order, Whitman, Whitworth, Wittenberg, Washington U. and Williams. What in the world of George W. Bush is going on here?

• Maybe it’s time for Gonzaga to lose a game. After all, if the Zags keep winning, they may drop out of the Top 25 all together.

They won twice last week, holding off stubborn USD in San Diego and routing BYU in front of 19,000 in Provo. And then dropped a spot in the polls.

• When the line drive was just a few feet from Felix Hernandez’s right arm yesterday, every Mariner fan in the world had the same thought. It’s just the ball was hit to hard for it to fully form until after the contact.

And by then, the only response was one I can’t type here.

Are the Mariners’ cursed? Well, if they were, wouldn’t Felix’s arm be shattered instead of bruised? Maybe not. Maybe the curse of the trident has something to do with slow, inevitable failure as opposed to a quick, the-season-is-over incident.

Hernandez, the rock of the rotation for more than a decade, may not be out for the year, but this is the type of injury that could derail his spring training and cause problems all season.

Sorry to sound so negative, but unlike the stock market, past performances in the Mariners’ case is indicative of future results. When it comes to the M’s, the toast always lands with the peanut butter side on the floor. Just saying.


WSU: The names have been out there for days. They have changed their Twitter handles to reflect their Washington State employment. But now it’s official, official. The Cougars announced the newest members of their football coaching staff yesterday. Theo Lawson has the story. … Theo also relays how he voted in the latest Associated Press basketball poll. … The Times’ Stefanie Loh covers the coaching staff hires as well. …Elsewhere in the Pac-12, there are lots of things to cover from the NFL draft stock of conference players to the basketball race to the FBI investigation to the latest polls. And there is UW’s approach to alleged sexual misconduct. … Washington has to pick it up a bit to make the NCAA tournament. … This week will decide Oregon’s conference tournament seeding. … It’s not only Arizona that’s been rocked by the ongoing scandal and recent revelations. USC has been touched pretty hard as well. … Bobby Hurley has been taken to the woodshed again. … Colorado needs to balance its scoring. … In football, UCLA has also finished its coaching staff and it includes a couple of former WSU assistants. … Rich Rodriguez is fighting back…. Stanford is beginning spring practice.

Gonzaga: Our Jim Meehan took a look at the basketball poll numbers in this story.

Whitworth: Jim Allen has the story of Whitworth’s NCAA Division III playoff placement.

Chiefs: Spokane had a great weekend and that led to a WHL award for Ty Smith.

Preps: Former Colton High star Jenna Moser is having a great season for Washington’s basketball team. Whitney Ogden details the route Moser took from practice player to starter.

Mariners: The biggest news yesterday was the line drive. The second biggest? The M’s blew a seven-run lead in the last few innings. OK, it’s just spring training, but seven runs? Come on. … Robinson Cano is aging. He also wants to get better. … Evan White is doing just fine at first base.

Sounders: The Jordan Morris news is as bad as it gets. The striker is out for the season. Seattle will be looking for someone to replace him.


• I refuse to acknowledge Russell Wilson’s spring training lark. If he were in anything but the uniform he is in, we would be all over it. But not in Yankee pinstripes. No way. Until later …

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