Just one of those days


Charlie Maricle

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Tiger Woods and Serena Williams entered Sunday poised to claim tournament championships. It was almost a foregone conclusion.

“Tiger always busts out on Sunday.” “

“Serena, well, she simply doesn’t lose, except maybe to her sister.”

Those were the sentiments swirling around the sporting world as Tiger stepped up to the first tee of the final round of the 2003 Masters.

He hasn’t had the stellar year that most would expect from him but the year is still young. He is coming off knee surgery that would send normal humans away from the links for a significant amount of time.

But let’s not feel sorry for the man. He’s the top money winner for the past three years. He nearly had golf’s grand slam, he has endorsement contracts wallpapering his house and I heard he has a pretty nice girlfriend.

Still it’s Tiger Woods. Everyone has seen the way he has dominated the golfing world the past five years.

He hasn’t been perfect but if he is within shooting distance of the lead in the final round, drama is usually expected.

And for me it’s not the fact that Woods lost. It’s how badly he lost that gets me interested.

Four shots back entering Sunday, Woods shot a 75, four strokes over par. That’s not good.

Jeff Maggert did the same as Woods Sunday and people were surprised. So Woods shooting so poorly is almost cause for alarm.

Was it the stress of getting his third Masters jacket? Was it the pressure to duplicate Saturday’s round of 5-under-66? Was it Martha Burk?

No, no and no. The simple fact is Woods choked. Everyone talks about Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie being unable to pull off a win. Well, people Tiger Woods has stepped a little closer to that crowd.

“Tiger always busts out on Sunday.” We may have to rethink that next time.

Serena Williams ended an unbeaten start to the 2003 season Sunday by losing to Justine Henin-Hardenne.

This loss was slightly surprising. Williams had dispatched Lindsay Davenport in straight sets the day before. And everyone came into Sunday expecting a good match but still a Williams win.

“My whole game was like 9,000 notches down,” Williams said after the match.

Yeah, I probably would say that too if I had just gotten swept 6-3, 6-4.

After 21 straight wins Williams was feeling strong going into the 2003 season. That’s when strength turned into something bad.

Williams voiced the desire to go undefeated. Well, yeah, I don’t think anyone goes into a year saying, ‘I think I’d like to lose a few matches, just to see what it’s like’.

The interesting thing about Sunday was the way Williams grabbed the first three sets then proceeded to lose 12 of the next 16.

She was distraught, disgusted and overall bad. She committed multiple errors and was unable to put key shots away. Williams only won a few points in the second set.

Was she trying to live up to the Serena-Slam? Was she stressed out because of her winning streak? Was she wearing the right outfit?

Who knows? It was probably just one of those Sundays.

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