Maria Sharapova simply couldn’t bear the thought of a U.S. Open taking place without her.
So while sidelined with a torn shoulder a year ago, she refused to follow the tournament on TV. Basically pretended it wasn’t even happening.
On Tuesday , Sharapova was right where she likes to be: on the Grand Slam stage and in the spotlight. The 2006 U.S. Open champion returned to the tournament with an impressive 6-3, 6-0 victory over Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria.
Halfway through his third round, Ricky Barnes had a six-shot lead and a smile to match in the U.S. Open. Ten holes later, with darkness gathering, he couldn’t get off Bethpage Black fast enough.
The final few hours Sunday changed everything in a start-and-stop U.S. Open headed for a Monday finish.
Tiger Woods couldn’t get off the course fast enough.
Mike Weir, Lucas Glover, Ricky Barnes and Phil Mickelson were among those on the right side of the rain at the U.S. Open and thrilled they didn’t have to leave until it was too dark to continue.
Already played on a long course, the U.S. Open suddenly turned into a long week.
Tiger Woods began his title defense Thursday on soggy Bethpage Black by having his caddie hold an umbrella until it was time to hit his opening drive. Facing a 15-foot birdie putt on the second hole, Woods stepped away so workers could mop up the green with a squeegee.
He won their hearts the last time, even though he couldn’t win their tournament. Tiger Woods stood in his way, as he so often does, but that didn’t stop New Yorkers from showing a lot of love for the swashbuckling lefty who kept grinning even as his chances of winning slipped away.
“El Nino” is no longer a little boy, even if he sometimes still behaves like one.
The Spaniard whose future once looked so promising is still chasing the first of what was expected to be a string of major championship wins, except now he’s standing on the cusp of 30.
While a few of his rivals are still sleeping, the best player in the world keeps getting better.
Not by the usual leaps and bounds, the length of a fairway, nor even a few feet.
Today we’re talking millimeters.
By JIM LITKE, AP Sports Columnist
, June 16, 2009
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