Competitive golf from the lens of Tony Romo

THE WOODLANDS – Working alongside Jim Nantz at CBS Sports, Tony Romo quickly established himself as one of the top NFL analysts following his days as a quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys.

A family man who is on top of his game in the broadcasting world, Romo also has a passion for golf and aspires to keep improving in that sport as well. This week they competed in the Carlton Woods Invitational, sharing 20th place in one of the more well-regarded mid-amateur tournaments in the country.

“I love the competitive side,” Romo said. “I just love to compete, and I’m fortunate to be able to still compete at something with a post-football score. Thankful that I have the opportunity and my back’s holding up.

“When healthy, I’ve got a chance to play good golf. You’ve got to manage (your game). I’ve improved a lot, but you’ve got to go shoot scores. Nobody cares about how you feel. ”

Two weeks ago, in the Inaugural ClubCorp Classic Celebrity division at Las Colinas Country Club in Irving, Romo held leads after each of the first two rounds before losing in a playoff to Mardy Fish.

Romo has won the American Century Championship for Celebrities at Lake Tahoe multiple times. He has competed in USGA events and the Korn Ferry Tour. He also has played in four PGA Tour tournaments as an Amateur on a sponsor’s exemption.

At the 2019 Safeway Open in Napa, Calif., They opened with a 2-under 70. That shared 28th place after round one, a shot better than the 2017 PGA Championship Winner Justin Thomas in a field loaded with marquee names.

On May 11 at Wild Rock Country Club in Wisconsin Dells, Wis., Romo will try to advance past local qualifying for this year’s US Open, to be played at The Country Club in Brookline (Mass.) June 13-19. He’s one of 9,265 entries in this year’s national open.

In 2010, Romo advanced to the U.S. Sectional Qualifying at The Club at Carlton Woods. That year they got through a local qualifying at his home course, Maridoe Golf Club in Carrollton.

Romo, who has undergone two back surgeries, has been restricted of late because the back has been acting up. Prior to Wednesday’s second round at The Club at Carlton Woods, Romo hit three wedges and one 7-iron from the practice range before heading straight to the No. 1 tee.

“I have to make sure the back is OK before I make sure my swing is OK,” said Romo, who once played a total of nine holes over a three-year span.

For the Carlton Woods Invitational, which concluded Thursday after three days on the Nicklaus Course, the 42-year-old Romo carded rounds of 76-77-74. His 11-over 227 was 11 shots behind John Hunter, a member at Carlton Woods, who won a one-hole playoff over Chris Wheeler. Robert Funk was the best at even-par 216 in the Senior Mid-Am division, holding off hard-charging Mike Lohner, who closed with a 3-under 69.

Romo’s game is a combination of power and finesse. Pre-back surgery, Romo’s club-head speed approached 120 mph. It’s now around 112, near the PGA Tour average. A good Reader of greens, Romo has in his bag on occasion the Nike Method putter Tiger Woods once used.

“He has a real solid game,” said Jonathan Keane, who has been in a grouping with Romo in each of the past two years in the 54-hole Carlton Woods Invitational. “He clearly works at it quite a bit. We’re all aware of who he is, but he’s just one of the guys out here. It’s really easy to get along with, and we’re all real focused on our game.

“He can definitely move the ball. He’s got a lot of power. He’s got a really good touch around the greens. He hits those finesse shots really well. Chips and putts well. ”

Romo received his first set of golf clubs at age 8. His father Ramiro is a multiple Winner of the Wisconsin State Senior Amateur.

“One of my favorite things is to play golf with my dad,” Romo said. “Something about the golf course. I love the father-son aspect. ”

During his playing days as a Cowboys quarterback from 2004-2016, Romo could go a full football season and play golf just once. But often in the offseason, they found his way to a course. He didn’t take the sport seriously until after he retired from the NFL. He has Hired Chris O’Connell, who has worked with Matt Kuchar, and Andy Traynor, both from Plane Truth in Dallas, to assist him in better understanding the game.

“That’s the goal: to make it one thought in a simple athletic move and go,” Romo said. “But you’ve got to practice and rehearse to get to the point where you can make an athletic move.”

Romo has been playing tournaments in North Texas this year to stay sharp.

“I just needed tournament reps, and I’m seeing more of my scores come down,” Romo said. “I needed reps, and I needed to get under the gun more often, and I’ve improved a lot this year. I’m still going through the swing change, but I’m seeing signs (of improvement). But I can score (better).

“This is the year I’ve turned the corner. I can tell. I think next year you’re going to see a big bump. Maybe in the summer (of 2022) at some point. I’m never able to hit shots I’ve never been able to do before. I’m excited about that. ”

Romo’s process involves a planned window of five to 10 years. But his golfing goals are truly day-to-day.

“I’m trying to improve each rep and every day,” Romo said. “Those reps in the process are building toward the goal. Which is really ultimately to be the best version of yourself. You really don’t know how good you can be until you immerse yourself into something. Same in broadcasting. I want to be as good as I can be. ”

As a broadcaster, Romo has been praised for his football insight. On many occasions, he has predicted a play before it was run. Yet he doesn’t pretend to know everything about the sport and is welcoming to the viewer.

“Outside the Lord and my family, it feels that broadcasting and golf are two of my passions,” said Romo, who joined CBS in 2017. “I feel fortunate to have the ability to work with Jim Nantz and CBS. And in fact they thought enough of me to bring me up with that first team, year one, was a rewarding experience, and I feel honored for that.

“It’s a wonderful experience, and you get to feel the energy, and you get to figure out each team and what they’re trying to accomplish. There’s so much of the aspect of the scheme that I love in the sport, and that’s very enjoyable. ”

Romo credits Nantz, who was on the golf team at the University of Houston, with aiding his transition from player to television analyst.

“Jim’s such a pro’s pro,” Romo said. “He is so gifted in so many areas. He makes it really easy on me. (Producer) Jim Rikhoff, (Sideline Reporter) Tracy Wolfson… we have an Incredible team. Even our bosses in New York. ”

Romo is selective of the tournaments he plays. This week marked the third time he teed off at the Carlton Woods event. In 2018, he was the opening-round leader, carding a 69 before finishing tied for eighth.

They gave a shout-out this week to Carlton Woods president Lyn Maddox, general manager Steve Salzman, head golf professional Emile Asous, as well as Marty Benson of the tournament committee.

“When you’re coming here, it’s going to be perfect,” Romo said. “They do an incredible job at this golf tournament. The people here, Marty, everybody is Fantastic. The pros. It’s first-class.

“It’s one of my favorite tournaments of the year. The greens are perfect. The conditions and course are amazing. Everyone is hospitable. They make you feel very welcome. ”

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