Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: a Tony Romo performance turned ugly late.
Romo, playing on a sponsor’s exemption in the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship, was toddling along well through the first 12 holes of the day, carding an even-par round right up to that point. But then, as if the calendar had turned from December to January, Romo detonated, going five-over through four holes to finish the day with a five-over 77, one position and two strokes out of last place.
“I was nervous,” Romo conceded. “I three-putted like three times in the round. Hopefully that’s just nerves.”
The round wasn’t without its high points; Romo drilled his first drive, and managed three birdies in five holes on the front nine to keep himself at even. Plus, he showed some flair with the flat stick:
“I hit two poor tee balls,” Romo said. “Ultimately just got put in a tough spot where I was just trying to play par … You’ve just got to putt. The three-putts add up.”
In all seriousness, this is a considerable accomplishment on the part of Romo, who’s tried — and failed — to qualify for the U.S. Open on numerous occasions. While athletes like Steph Curry, Jerry Rice and John Smoltz have gotten exemptions to play in lower-level tour events, Romo is the first celebrity to receive a sponsor’s exemption into a PGA Tour event since 1992. Back then, former Washington quarterback Mark Rypien shot 80 and 91 at the D.C.-area Kemper Open to miss the cut by 28 strokes and finish last by 13 strokes. PGA Tour pros weren’t pleased that Rypien took up a slot that could have gone to a more qualified player. But Romo benefitted from the fact that the Corales event is taking place the same weekend as the Dell Match Play, which has picked up the lion’s share of high-level Tour pros.
Romo returns to the course Friday with a chance at redemption. He knows what’s ahead of him now, and if his announcing persona is any indication, he can predict exactly what he’ll need to do on every single hole … hopefully with better results on the back nine.
“Two or three shots on the back nine cost me,” he said. “That’s golf.”
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