Golf still needs Tiger


Golf still needs Tiger

Editor's Note: Follow Tiger Woods' Friday round with the Golf Channel's Tiger Tracker feature. We'll have full coverage tonight on SportsNet Central at 6, 10:30 and midnight.

Golf really must be a boring sport.

Because there seems to be only one thing to talk about.

Tiger Woods. Still, after all these years.

Has the world of golf gone on for the past two years? Have new faces emerged? Have tournaments been won?

Yes. But no one has apparently been interesting enough to puncture the fixation on Woods. Thats a sad commentary on the sport. What if, after Eli Manning won the Super Bowl, the main response was, Yeah, yeah, but whats Brett Favre up to?

Golfs entire focus seems to remain on a man who isnt ranked in the top-10, who hasnt won a legitimate tournament in more than two years, whose single most interesting single as a celebrity was running into a fire hydrant. Do the fans like him? Are they shouting encouragement? Has robo-golfer cracked a smile? Is he unhappy with the pace of the rounds? Will he be nice to Bill Murray?

The preposterous reaction to Woods was most noticeable last December when Woods won something called the Chevron World Challenge, and the response was as if hed just come from five back on the final day to win the Masters.

The Chevron World Challenge is a non-official 18-man tournament established as a charity fund-raiser by Woods himself. Its not a PGA Tour event, not exactly a significant event. Yet Woods ability to prevail in that outing in December created a chorus of plaid-panted angels singing hallelujahs, a tally of how long it had been since Woods had won anything besides the Befuddled Texter award and generated phrases such as the win will likely send expectations soaring for 2012.

Here we are in 2012 and the fawning is in full force. Woods has deigned to play in the AT&T, a tournament he shunned for a decade -- he usually shuns it for his big payday in Dubai. Hes paired with Tony Romo -- just two athletes who just cant seem to get it done in crunch time these days.

On Thursday in his first round, he shot a four-under at Spyglass and the angels started to sing again. Has there ever been such a chorus for a tie for 15th?

More than a decade ago, Woods was the most interesting thing in golf. He was supposed to change the sport, with his athleticism and diversity. But instead he seems to have created a singular obsession among golf fans and writers: all Tiger, all the time. Even after a winless two years.

Instead of making the sport more interesting, he seems to have made it one-dimensional.

Woods made other golfers very rich. He made golf media feel important and golf-related jobs more prominent. There are a lot of people invested in him doing something more than flailing about on the golf course and having a high profile divorce. Theres a sense of an industry waiting for Woods to rescue it, Rory McIlroy be damned.

Thats more than a little tedious.

Woods and Romo play again today on the Monterey Peninsula Course. If you hear hallelujahs echoing on the winds blowing up from the south, youll know Woods shot another decent round. And the one-note story will continue.
Freelance writer Ann Killion is a regular contributor to and Chronicle Live.

Kelly: No changes to defensive staff


Kelly: No changes to defensive staff

SANTA CLARA – The search for answers will continue during the 49ers’ bye week. But coach Chip Kelly said he has already concluded he will make no changes to the defensive staff.

The 49ers surrendered 513 yards of total offense to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at Levi’s Stadiium. The Buccaneers, who entered the game with the league's 27th-ranked run game, rushed for 249 yards in their 34-17 victory over the 49ers.

Defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil has come under fire, but Kelly told reporters he is not looking to make any changes to his staff. Kelly said he already spends ample time with O’Neil on a weekly basis.

“We spend time together during the week,” Kelly said. “We carve out time, in terms of how we watch film and what we do.

“There’s good communication there from that standpoint. It’s not like I don’t know what’s going on on the defensive side of the ball.”

Defensive players in the 49ers’ locker room expressed confidence in O’Neil’s scheme.

“I love this scheme,” safety Eric Reid said. “If everybody does their job, we shouldn’t get beat. But whenever there’s an explosive play, somebody is out of position. We just got to tighten up.”

Said defensive lineman DeForest Buckner, “We have a great scheme and we have the guys to fit the scheme that he’s trying to run for us. Everybody individually, including myself, just needs to do better.”

Outside linebacker Aaron Lynch, who left the game in the third quarter with a high-ankle sprain, expressed a view of the team’s defensive players that was more than a bit optimistic.

“We have the team,” Lynch said. “We possibly have one of the best teams in the NFL, easily. Hands down. We need to know how to keep finishing games and work together throughout the whole game. Once we get that down, nobody’s going to be able to mess with us.”

The 49ers rank last in the NFL in rushing defense. The 49ers gave up 561 yards rushing in the past two games, the worst back-to-back weeks in franchise history.

Buccaneers running back Jacquizz Rodgers was the latest player to feast on the 49ers' defense. Rodgers rushed for a career-high 154 yards on 26 carries to become the sixth consecutive opponent to gain more than 100 yards on the 49ers.


Lambo's OT field goal pushes Chargers past Falcons


Lambo's OT field goal pushes Chargers past Falcons

ATLANTA — Josh Lambo's 42-yard field goal in overtime gave San Diego its first road win of the year as the Chargers rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons 33-30 on Sunday.

The Chargers (3-4) trailed 27-10 in the second quarter. They had lost 11 of their past 12 road games.

Linebacker Denzel Perryman delivered two key plays late in the game. Perryman's interception of Matt Ryan's pass for Julio Jones set up Lambo's tying 33-yard field goal with 18 seconds remaining in regulation.

Perryman's fourth-and-1 stop on running back Devonta Freeman gave San Diego the ball at Atlanta's 43 for the Chargers' winning drive. Perryman grabbed Freeman's feet behind the line for the key tackle on the Falcons' gamble.

Atlanta took the lead with three straight second-quarter touchdowns before San Diego launched its comeback.

Melvin Gordon ran for 68 yards and two touchdowns and added a 5-yard scoring catch early in the fourth quarter, cutting Atlanta's lead to 30-27.

Atlanta's Matt Bryant missed his attempt for a 58-yard field goal on the final play of regulation. The Falcons (4-3) have lost two straight.

Jones had nine catches for 174 yards.

PROTEST: Five San Diego players raised their clenched right fists as their protest during the national anthem. Standing together on the San Diego sideline, offensive linemen D.J. Fluker, Chris Hairston and Joe Barksdale and linebacker Joshua Perry held up their fists as they stood. Offensive tackle Tyreek Burwell, inactive and not in uniform, also raised his fist as part of the protest.

There were no demonstrations from Falcons players.

200 AGAIN: Ryan passed for 273 yards for his NFL-record 46th consecutive game with more than 200 yards passing. He threw a 17-yard scoring pass to tight end Jacob Tamme in the second quarter.

INJURIES: Chargers defensive tackle Caraun Reid was carted off with a left knee injury in the first quarter and did not return. Reid had a teammate fall on his leg on a Falcons completion to tight end Levine Toilolo.