Golf still needs Tiger

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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 CSNBayArea.com and Chronicle Live.

With Travis sidelined, Stanford can't slow down surging Oregon Ducks

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AP

With Travis sidelined, Stanford can't slow down surging Oregon Ducks

BOX SCORE

EUGENE, Ore. -- Chris Boucher had 16 points and 10 rebounds, Dylan Ennis scored 15 and No. 11 Oregon rolled to a 69-52 victory over Stanford on Saturday.

With preseason All-America forward Dillon Brooks on the bench and his left leg in a boot to protect a sprained foot, the Ducks (18-2, 7-0 Pac-12) broke a 104-year-old school record with their 16th consecutive win and 38th in a row at home.

Jordan Bell and Tyler Dorsey each had 11 points for Oregon, which overcame 19 turnovers by shooting 11 of 25 from 3-point range and outrebounding Stanford 40-29.

Marcus Allen had 13 points as the only scorer in double figures for the Cardinal (11-9, 3-5). Stanford went more than eight minutes of the second half without a field goal, shot just 32.3 percent overall (20 of 62) and had two players foul out.

Oregon spotted the Cardinal the first five points and then hit four straight 3-pointers in taking a 16-7 lead. The margin grew to 20 late in the half as the Ducks went 8 of 17 beyond the arc and 14 of 26 (53.8 percent) overall.

Stanford, meanwhile, went the last five minutes of the half without a field goal and trailed 40-22.

The Ducks, who led by as many as 25 late in the game, have won their last six games by an average of 24.3 points.

BIG PICTURE

Stanford hasn't swept a conference road trip since 2010. The Cardinal hope to have leading scorer Reid Travis (16.6 ppg) back from a shoulder injury in time for a visit to California in eight days.

Oregon finishes the first half of the Pac-12 season next week at Utah and Colorado, a road trip it hasn't swept in four tries since the Utes and Buffaloes joined the conference in 2011.

UP NEXT

Stanford, now 0-6 against ranked teams, hits the Pac-12 midpoint at California on Jan. 29.

Oregon goes for its first 8-0 start to conference play in 91 years at Utah on Thursday. The Ducks finished 10-0 in the Pacific Coast Conference in 1925-26.

Ex-Warrior rips Thunder for not defending Westbrook after Pachulia incident

Ex-Warrior rips Thunder for not defending Westbrook after Pachulia incident

Late in the first half of Wednesday night's game against the Thunder, Warriors center Zaza Pachulia made hard contact with Russell Westbrook, sending the Oklahoma City star sprawling to the ground.

The referees reviewed the play and gave Pachulia a flagrant foul.

Replays show Pachulia appearing to stand over Westbrook and none of his Thunder teammates coming to his defense.

Raja Bell, a 12-year NBA veteran who was briefly a Warrior during the 2009-10 season, was not happy with the reaction of the Thunder players.

"You are supposed to come flying across the court. You don't have to punch him, because that's a lot of money. But he should catch a forearm across his shoulder, a shove in the back, you ain't gonna knock down Russell Westbrook, the everything to the team I'm playing on, who feeds me, who makes me better, you ain't gonna do that and just stand over him and ice grill him. Not a chance," Bell said on Thursday during the NBA Crossover show on CBS Sports.

The incident started a war of words between Westbrook a Pachulia following the game.

"I don't know. He hit me kind of hard. But it's alright. I'm going to get his ass back. Straight up," Westbrook said when asked about what happened on the play.

He was then asked if he noticed Pachulia standing over him.

"I didn't see that until just now, but I don't play that game. I'm going to get his ass back. Whenever that is, I don't know, but I don't play that game," Westbrook said.

Pachulia responded to Westbrook's comments moments later.

"I can't worry about that kind of comment. I'm part of an amazing team and we have a great goal of winning a championship. I'm all in with my energy, 100 percent. So we're thinking about this team, staying healthy, moving forward, getting better, getting to the playoffs and playing for the championship. That's what I'm thinking about. I'm not thinking about those kind of comments.

"That team is not there, so they may be thinking about other stuff like getting me back. Okay, you can get me back. But again, it's my 14th year, we all know what my game is, to play hard, not dirty. If it was a hard foul, it was a hard foul. It wasn't dirty at all. I'm not worried about this," Pachulia told the media.