Tony Romo of USA watches a shot during practice prior to the start of the AT&T Byron Nelson on May 07, 2019 in Irving, Texas.
Tony Romo of USA watches a putt during practice prior to the start of the AT&T Byron Nelson on May 07, 2019 in Irving, Texas.
Tony Romo is teeing it up on the PGA Tour this week and you can get 10,000/1 odds placing a bet that the quarterback-turned-broadcaster-turned-golfer will win.
The AT&T Byron Nelson at Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas, Texas, will be Romo’s second start of the year as a sponsor’s exemption on the PGA Tour. He shot 79-80 at the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in March to miss the cut by 17 strokes – two touchdowns and a field goal.
When he’s not busy becoming America’s sweetheart in the NFL broadcast booth, Romo has been working hard on his golf game. He has a new putting grip after looking like he was putting with a live snake two months ago. Also, he’s a member at Trinity Forest where the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that he has shot a 65 and a 66. And 10,000/1 odds at your home course sounds pretty tasty.
Perhaps this week will be different.
Of course, it won’t.
Romo has a better chance of leading a team of golfers to next year’s Super Bowl than he does of winning a PGA Tour event. But that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be in the field. In fact, despite what you hear from critics, it’s good for golf.
Golf isn’t really a spectator sport the way other big-money leagues are. Golf is a participation sport. Virtually everyone who attends a regular PGA Tour event plays the sport. The same can’t be said about football or hockey or baseball. The pros play, we play, Tony Romo plays. There is something special about that.
The reason that the governing bodies in golf are so dead against having one set of rules for pros and another for amateurs is that it would officially separate the sport of golf we watch on TV, from the game of golf we play on weekends. Although the consequences of that are hard to put a finger on, it’s not unreasonable to worry that something would be lost. Will Romo embarrass himself? Maybe. But his failure helps maintain context between an ever-more-distant professional game and the rest of golfers, and that’s a good thing.
Critics will argue that he is taking up a spot in the field that could be used for someone who’s dedicating his life’s work to the sport. It’s true that a player twice as good as Romo will be sitting at home cursing every time he three putts with his new putting grip, but the lesson to learn there is not to be the last guy in the field. Professional sports is a cut-throat business and nobody is owed anything.
“Everybody is always criticizing Romo but that’s up to the tournament who they want to bring in,” Brooks Koepka said Tuesday at Trinity Forest. “That’s their choice and nobody else’s. It’s fun for us to see those guys.”
It’s no wonder why the organizers and partners want the former Cowboys quarterback in the field in Dallas. With the PGA Championship taking place next week at Bethpage Black, the AT&T Byron Nelson has Koepka, Texas-native Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed and not much else in what looks to be the weakest field of 2019. In fact, the RBC Canadian Open deserves even more credit for who they’ve been able to attract the week before the U.S. Open after seeing how few players are playing this week before a major.
For a tour that thinks allowing players to wear shorts during practice rounds is progressive, Romo offers a little fresh air and maybe even (egad!) some fun.
“We keep saying we need to grow the game and the whole object is to get fans out here, so you can criticize it all you want to but it’s bringing people out here to watch golf and if they bring their families and their kids, who knows, it might get them started in the game,” Koepka said.
HAMILTON A GEM
The golf media had the chance to play Hamilton Golf and Country Club this week and the Harry Colt designed parkland course didn’t disappoint. The century-old course will host the RBC Canadian Open June 6-9.
The trend in golf design right now is toward minimalist designs with fewer trees near fairways and plenty of room off the tee. That’s not Hamilton. The fairways on those minimalist courses aren’t usually framed and much of the strategy is found in what line to take off the tee to give yourself a good angle into the green. It’s a very rewarding style of golf if you can score well, but playing a world-class golden-age parkland course such as Hamilton with beautifully framed tree-lined fairways, doglegs, and numerous elevated tees is like coming back home.
There is still plenty of strategy involved, especially when it comes to the lost art of shaping shots. Another shot that the more barren, minimalist designs don’t demand as often is the recovery shot. There is plenty of trouble to be found in the trees and a good parkland course constantly dares you to try to get everything back in one shot.
Of course, there is risk involved in bringing a PGA Tour event to a classic-styled parkland course that’s just under 7,000 yards.
First, many of the worst golf course critics in the world are tour players who prefer to see the same course in front of them every week. Change the scenery and take driver out of their hands and there will be some whiners. Luckily, Rory McIlroy – the star of the show – said on Monday that he thinks the tour should play more courses like Hamilton. The other risk is that anytime a course is shorter than average, weather becomes even more important. Firm conditions can provide a necessary level of defense at Hamilton with good fairway roll depositing balls into the difficult rough and hard greens guarding against players firing darts at flags. Cross your fingers for sunshine.
There is a risk/reward to hosting the RBC Canadian Open to Hamilton, but this is golf after all and Harry Colt wouldn’t have it any other way.
Jordan Spieth again finds himself trying to play his way out of his slump the week before a major. This time it’s at the Byron Nelson where he made his PGA Tour as a sponsor’s exemption at 16 years old. He made the cut and finished tied for 16th … David Hearn is making his third consecutive start on the PGA Tour this week looking to earn his card back. With a couple recent starts under his belt, it’s as good a chance as any … Chris Kirk posted a note on Twitter explaining that he is taking “an indefinite leave” from the game to deal with alcohol abuse and depression. We wish the four-time PGA Tour winner well.
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