US Open went quite well enough

A new golf champion was crowned, Pierce County’s public-owned golf course at Chambers Bay got national exposure, and many pockets in South Sound were left with a jingle of extra money.

All around, last week’s 115th U.S. Open championship in University Place was a winner for our region – as well as Jordan Spieth, the 21-year-old champ.

The excitement went to the final hole Sunday as rival Dustin Johnson missed a four-foot putt that could have forced Spieth into a Monday overtime.

Fun aside, professional golf’s organization lands on a community like an occupying force, and we’re glad to get our communities back. We remain disappointed that state lawmakers who took free tickets to attend the open, including a long closed-door briefing by Pierce officials, did not fight harder to open the doors of their private briefing session to outside observers.

But the showcase event was seen around the world and it went off exceedingly well by many accounts – notwithstanding golfers' complaints about lumpy putting greens and beefs about Fox Sports' coverage.

How much our economy gains remains to be tallied but inns were full, many residents rented out extra rooms to golf fans, and restaurants were busy. There are estimates that a similar Open at California’s Torrey Pines in 2008 had a direct $73.6 million financial impact on the San Diego area, which in turn had indirect impacts of $68.5 million more.

In the end, Chambers Bay proved a tough but worthy course for the world’s elite golfers, and we’re not inclined to listen too closely to those who compared the fescue on the greens to broccoli and cauliflower. A bit of wildness and challenges never hurt anyone, not even pampered athletes, and we’re sure Chambers’ managers will find a way to smooth things over for the next time, if there is a next time.

As unpredictable as the hilly course might have been, Spieth and his three finalist rivals signaled a new day has arrived for an ancient sport. The win was Spieth’s second major tournament victory in a row after the Masters, the four finalists were from three different continents, and none was older than 30.

What's not to like?



The cancer-related death of Washington State University president Elson S. Floyd last weekend leaves another void in our state’s higher education ranks. His departure comes at a time our own Evergreen State College is seeing its vital leader, Les Purce, head into retirement; the University of Washington lost Michael Young earlier this year to the financially greener pastures at Texas A&M.

Floyd’s dynamic advocacy for education drew a following. Political forces in the Legislature are rallying behind the naming of a new WSU medical school in Spokane after Floyd. This idea deserves consideration.

Spurred in no small measure by Floyd, lawmakers earlier this year approved creation of the school as an adjunct to the outstanding program run by WSU’s cross-state rival, the University of Washington.

Spokane-area lawmakers are among those leading the charge, including Republican state Sen. Michael Baumgartner and Democratic Reps. Marcus Riccelli and Timm Ormsby. They, along with South Sound Reps. Sam Hunt and Chris Reykdal, both Democrats, are sponsoring legislation to name the school after Floyd, who was 59.

We think that in honoring Floyd, lawmakers should not dishonor the UW’s highly successful medical school which is a cost-effective model. That means financing for WSU’s new school should not come from cuts in the UW’s budget.

Increasing our overall investment in knowledge is a tribute Floyd would appreciate.