Golf can even rattle ‘Joe Cool’ |

Golf can even rattle ‘Joe Cool’

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

Joe Montana didn’t grimace very often while he was a pro quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs. He won four Super Bowls and was selected to the Pro Bowl eight times during his 16-year NFL career.

But when his 20-foot uphill birdie putt stopped a few paces from the 18th hole at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course on Monday, Montana wore the expression of a quarterback who just had a last-second pass picked off in the end zone.

“Golf is always frustrating. It’s the game you love to hate,” Montana said. “All of it … you can’t aim, you can’t hit, you can’t putt … one day you’re hitting your driver and you’re not putting and one day you’re putting and you’re not driving. It’s just one of those games you have to spend a lot of time at.”

As the host of the third annual Joe Montana Celebrity Golf Classic, Montana enjoyed a rare opportunity to play golf.

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“We started shooting pars, so we figured we weren’t in the hunt, so we just had a good time,” said Montana, whose best-ball scramble team shot a 5-under-par 67. “So far, I’ve seen everyone having fun.”

The classic’s second stop at Edgewood Tahoe attracted a celebrity field that included Dick Butkus, Dave Casper, Elke Sommer, Lee Majors, Dave Parker and Ted Hendricks.

Montana’s backup with the 49ers, Steve Bono, continued to show support for his former teammate.

“I’m here because of Joe. Knowing he’s doing good things, I like to help him however I can,” said Bono, who dividies his time between his positions with the Bank of America and the 49ers.

Proceeds from the event will be split between the Contra Costa County Boys & Girls Club and Montana’s foundation that provides scholarships to underprivileged in Sonoma County.

At 47, there are no comebacks left in the “Comeback Kid,” who retired in 1995. Montana led 31 fourth-quarter rallies during his NFL career but the only attachment he has to the game today is the Bay Area investment company he runs with former 49ers’ teammates Ronnie Lott and Harris Barton.

“I miss Sundays. I don’t miss all of the other stuff,” Montana said.

Montana’s allegiance doesn’t rest with the 49ers or Chiefs, at least when he sits down to watch a football game on Sundays.

“I watch a lot of teams. I like watching good teams play,” he said.

The three-time Super Bowl MVP was impressed by the Chiefs’ and 49ers’ convincing victories in week one but says not to take too much stock in openers.

“They both played well … it’s the first game, but it’s a long season,” Montana said. “They have to maintain that and stay healthy, that’s the biggest part.”

The Hall of Fame quarterback says new San Francisco coach Dennis Erickson faces pressure similar to what George Seifert did when he took over for Bill Walsh in 1991.

“When Seifert came in and took over for Bill we had just won two Super Bowls back to back and we should have been to a third one when he took it over,” Montana said. “It’s similar to (now). They have a lot of talent.

“Last year, everyone was questioning the defense, but at the end of the year, that defense wasn’t healthy. Now they’re healthy and if they keep them that way, we’re gonna be damn tough.”

After football, Montana dabbled in auto racing, but now he is focused on keeping up with his four children on the basketball court.

“They’re getting a little bit quicker than me, so it’s starting to scare me.”

Say it ain’t so, Joe.

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