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Sunday, August 25, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Grip on Sports: It can be an interesting trip from Spokane to Pebble Beach

Alex Prugh watches his shot from the rough during the 2015 Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club. (DANNY MOLOSHOK / AP)
Alex Prugh watches his shot from the rough during the 2015 Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club. (DANNY MOLOSHOK / AP)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • It’s always fun to see someone you’ve known since they were young hit it big. It happens more than you might think – and less than it should. It is, however, happening again this week in California.

•••••••

• Spokane’s Alex Prugh will be playing in his second U.S. Open golf tournament next weekend at Pebble Beach, the famed course on California’s Monterey Peninsula.

It’s a long way from Manito Country Club that’s for sure.

Prugh’s journey to, from and around the PGA Tour has always been well documented by Jim Meehan, and this milestone is no different. Jim’s column this week puts you in the middle of the action from last weekend, when Alex successfully navigated the bumpy qualifying process.

Just because you’ve won six figures on the Tour doesn’t automatically put you in America’s most prestigious tournament. Then again, there has been nothing automatic about Prugh’s golf career, beginning as a youth in Spokane, through Ferris High, the University of Washington and the myriad of second-tier tours leading to the Holy Grail, the PGA.

Even though Alex’s father, Steve, was the head pro at Manito, golf wasn’t the only sport his son played. A competitive nature isn’t always honed in one place. It can be sharpened on the basketball court or the baseball field or, as I saw, the soccer pitch.

There are statistics available for everything, including I’m sure, the odds of a boy playing youth soccer ending up playing in the MLS. I wonder what the odds are of a youngster running up and down the South Complex playing the weekend at Pebble Beach with a U.S. Open title on the line?

One-hundred billion to one? More?

Whatever they are, Alex Prugh will try to cash in starting Thursday. It may not be as prestigious as, say, winning an SYSA soccer title in the mid-1990s, but it’s a pretty big deal.

• The mean streets of the South Hill – we’re talking potholes here, not New York-like crime – also helped produce a MLS general manager.

Real Salt Lake’s Craig Waibel credits Spokane for the impetus which led him from Lewis and Clark High to the University of Washington into the MLS as a player, coach and general manager.

Luke Byrnes has Waibel’s story in today’s S-R.

•••

WSU: The athletic department’s budget plans were approved by Washington State’s board of regents yesterday. Chad Sokol has the coverage of their most recent meeting. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, believe it or not, some companies are willing to bet on the conference. … Utah’s athletic director has been on the job a year. … There is basketball news from Oregon State, Colorado, UCLA, Arizona and Utah, where one of the Utes’ key players is taking a year off. … UCLA’s baseball team, the NCAA’s top seed, rallied in the bottom of the ninth but fell a run short against Michigan. … The Coliseum’s name won’t change, but United Airlines will put its name on the field and receive top billing.

Gonzaga: Greg Foster, who played limited but promising minutes last season as a freshman, will transfer, Jim has confirmed. The departure opens up a scholarship that may be filled by a more experienced transfer. … Around the WCC, there is another story on BYU coach Mark Pope. By now, I’m not sure there is anymore to write.

EWU: The NCAA Track and Field Championships are taking place in Austin, Texas, and a handful of local athletes are competing. One of them is former Mt. Spokane runner John Dressel.

Idaho: Until the university makes a final decision on basketball coach Don Verlin’s status, many recruits are in a state of limbo. Peter Harriman explains where they stand in this story.

Golf: Besides Jim’s weekly column focusing on Prugh, there is the Lilac Invitational still going on.

Indians: The latest Press Box pod features Dave Nichols joining Larry Weir. They also talk a bit about the prep scene.

Preps: Speaking of the prep scene, we can pass along Chuck Stewart's Youth Sports Notebook.

Mariners: Marco Gonzales hopes June will be like April, not May. It was April-like last night as he pitched the M’s to a 6-2 win against the Angels. … The M’s injury list grew yesterday with a painful one Mitch Haniger is dealing with. … Gene Warnick was able to write an Out of Right Field recap last night that covered a win.

Seahawks: The Hawks have signed all of their 2019 draft picks. … Shaquill Griffin is in better shape.

•••       

• We have a friend in town. He’s never been in the Spokane area before. We want to give him the grand tour, starting early tomorrow morning. Maybe end up driving from here to there, showing off the beauty of places like North Division and Newport, Lake Pend Oreille and an empty Paul Bunyan shake cup, downtown Oakesdale and Steptoe Butte. Who knows what wonders we might see? Anyway, an early start means we probably won’t be writing a column. Don’t expect one, but if I get up early enough I’ll put out the Bat signal on Twitter. Until later …

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