Romo confident, comfortable among TOUR field in Dominican Republic debut
The former quarterback-turned-analyst in the field at the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship
March 20, 2018
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
Inside the PGA TOUR
2018 Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship
PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic — Tony Romo grew up playing at public golf courses after receiving his first set of clubs from his father as an 8-year-old. It wasn’t until he was in his 20’s that Romo first went to a country club.
At that country club’s driving range, he had finished hitting the balls laid out for him and went to find someone so he could pay for another basket. There was no need however, as the golf balls just re-appeared for free. So he kept going.
“It felt like stealing,” he recalled with a smile. "I was like, ‘you could do this all day!’”
Now, the golf balls are still unlimited. But instead of hitting them on a driving range next to friends or family, he’s lined up next to some of the biggest names on the PGA TOUR, as he makes his debut in a TOUR event this week at the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic.
Romo, 37, just finished his first year as the lead football analyst for CBS Sports after a solid career with the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL. He has tried qualifying for the U.S. Open and has played in some celebrity events and the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. But this, he admitted, was a whole different animal.
“It’s a good test of golf … if it’s windy, the scores won’t be that low,” Romo said, who couldn’t remember the last time he played nine holes that were over 4,000 yards in length (the back nine at Corales plays at 4,053).
Romo said that as a quarterback, he’s been able to get so good at golf because he spent his whole life trying to hit a precise spot with a football.
He waxed philosophically when he talked about the comparison between the two sports.
“What I’ve done over the last few months has really been the same thing that I did in football when I was young and starting off,” Romo said. “What do I believe in? What’s my blueprint that I’m going to follow? You’ve got to believe in something, then you’ve got to go attack it.”
Romo, who has a +0.3 handicap, will be paired with Dru Love — the son of 21-time TOUR winner Davis Love III, who is also in the field — and Denny McCarthy for the first two rounds.
Love said that Romo looked as committed as any TOUR player during his preparation. Love arrived early to the course on Sunday and saw Romo already practicing. And after watching him, Love said that Romo’s move on the ball isn’t out of place on a PGA TOUR driving range.
“His swing looks great on the range, and the noise his ball makes is the same as the guys next to him. He’s taking it really seriously,” Love said. “As an athlete he prepares for football games weeks in advance like we do (for) PGA TOUR events in advance, so I think he’s eager to get going.“
Love is in the event on a sponsor exemption and thought there was a good chance he would be paired with Romo. He got the text confirming as such on the 12th hole of his practice round Tuesday, had a small laugh with his dad and fellow practice round partners Jim Furyk and Tom Lovelady, and then got excited at the opportunity.
“I’m sure he wants to play well and show that he’s a dual-sport athlete,” he said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Some anxious eyes will also be on Romo’s performance from the WGC-Dell Match Play Championship.
Jordan Spieth, playing this week in Austin, Texas, is a frequent playing partner of Romo’s. He said at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am that the skill-set Romo had from football as being part of his key attributes.
“He’s a guy that when he gets kind of a feeling, he sees a couple shots … and then he can hit a hundred of them in a row,” Spieth said. “His muscle memory, his hand-eye coordination is really special.”
Fellow Dallas resident Conrad Shindler, who played in this event when it was part of the Web.com Tour schedule, said he’s played with Romo a handful of times at home, and was impressed with his confidence.
“He believes he can hit any shot,” Shindler said. “He’s always confident in his abilities and that’s what you see from some of the most successful athletes in sports. They were just confident.
“If you threw some hockey skates on Tony I think he would feel he could be competitive in the NHL.”
Romo said he tried to take his weaknesses — he admitted his wedge game isn’t up to TOUR standard — and make them strengths as he prepared. He admitted with a laugh his wife hasn’t seen much of him the past month, but cares about how he performs this week.
“Golf obviously wasn’t my sport most of my life, but I’ve put a lot of time in preparing for this,” he said. “I’ll be prepared to play the best that I’m capable this week.”