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U.S. Open Director 'So Ready To Get This Thing Going'

Golf's U.S. Open Championship tees off starting at 7 a.m. Thursday morning at Chambers Bay Golf Course near Tacoma, Washington.

And the weather forecast looks favorable to show off the best side of the Pacific Northwest for the next four days.

The first U.S. Open ever staged in the Northwest has a $10 million purse. The tournament will feature 156 of the world's best golfers from 26 countries. More than 5,000 volunteers will guide them, along with hundreds of reporters and tens of thousands of spectators around a reclaimed gravel mine, turned championship golf course.

U.S. Golf Association director Mike Davis said he feels "some anxiousness," but is "more excited than anything" to begin.

"While it is going to be aesthetically different, architecturally different, we are going to remain true to really what a U.S. Open is -- and what it has been,” Davis said. “Which is a great, comprehensive test of shot making skills, course management skills, ability to handle your nerves."

On the eve of the competition, Davis assured reporters that the organizers "are so ready to get this thing going.” He added that the Open had already achieved one goal: to stir up interest in golf in the Pacific Northwest.

2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose said he’s picked up a “good buzz” from the spectator galleries.

“The grandstands are very impressive down the last hole,” he said. “I think the scene there on Sunday is going to be amazing. Really looking forward to it. There’s some good energy about people out there. They’re very encouraging and supportive and looking forward to seeing some golf.”

The bleachers and rope lines along the fairways at Chambers Bay were noticeably more crowded Wednesday. Close to 30,000 tickets were sold to watch the final day of U.S. Open practice.

Pro golfer Michael Putnam who lives about two miles from Chambers Bay will be the first to tee off the actual competition Thursday at around 7 a.m.

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.