Mendoza: Drama-filled weekend

Al Mendoza
·2 min read

It was one weekend bathed in eventful twists on the tennis and golf fronts.

In the Australian Open, Serena Williams survived three grueling sets against big-hitting Aryna Sabalenka, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, to stay on course for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title. Williams, 39, battles next dangerous No. 2 Simona Halep, who ousted French Open champion Iga Swiatek.

But No. 3 Dominic Thiem got blown out by No. 18 Grigor Dimitrov in three cruel sets in the men’s fourth round.

Visibly spent after his five-set win over Nick Kyrgios, Thiem, the reigning US Open champ, was incredibly blanked in the third set, 6-0.

In the PGA’s Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Jordan Spieth, whose last win was in the 2017 British Open, got blunted in his return to the top by Daniel Berger.

A pity, since Spieth, 27, appeared comeback-poised after an eight-iron second shot found the hole on 16, proceeding to erect a two-shot lead with a round left.

But Spieth’s slump-ending bid died there as Berger, the world’s No. 15, played magical golf on his final hole Sunday, amazingly making a three on the par-5 18th.

And did he play his last hole with revenge in his eyes, improbably using two woods and a putter?

Just the day before, Berger drove out-of-bounds for a double-bogey that put him two shots behind Spieth.

But on Sunday, Berger, needing a birdie to win or a par to force a playoff, put on a rare display of perfection, flawless golf.

Brushing aside that nightmare the day before, he split the fairway with a 276-yard drive.

The wise would have played it safely with a layup on the next shot.

Not Berger. He reprised a Sunday Suspense Theater yet again.

The brave don’t fear to tread.

Berger went for the green from 250 yards with his 3-wood. And, from 30 feet, made his eagle putt to win with plenty to spare.

With his finishing 7-under-par 65 in difficult conditions, Berger won by two shots over Maverick McNealy (66), and by three over Patrick Cantlay (68) and 54-hole leader Spieth (70).

“I feel like I got a little bit of revenge on the 18th,” said Berger. “I hit a great drive and hit the best 3-wood I’ve ever hit in my life. The putter was the icing on the cake.”

He can say that again.