News & Opinion

It’s time for Tony Romo to take a knee on PGA Tour

With 4 missed cuts in as many starts, the former NFL quarterback needs to call an audible and pass on this unrealistic dream

Let’s get one thing straight: Tony Romo is not now nor will he ever be good enough to play on the PGA Tour.

Yes, that’s an opinion but an informed one. A look at the facts: Romo is a 39-year-old former NFL quarterback who came to golf later in life. Since his retirement from football in 2016, he has been generously granted four sponsor exemptions to play in PGA Tour events and has yet to be competitive.

Byron Nelson 2019
Tony Romo misses his 4th cut in as many starts – all via sponsor exemptions – on the PGA Tour. Enough is enough.

His latest appearance occurred last week at the Safeway Open, where he missed his fourth cut in a row, tying for 129th in a 144-player field (scores). He played in the AT&T Byron Nelson in May and has twice played in the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic, which was an opposite-field event against the WGC Dell Match Play.

Golf should be Romo’s hobby, but he apparently believes that he can one day – soon – take his game to the PGA Tour. He would be wrong. Here’s why:

He did not play college golf or any significant amateur golf. He never has competed against the best golfers for any period of time. He has tried to qualify for the U.S. Open four times and has advanced past the local level only once, in 2010, while still playing for the Dallas Cowboys.

Romo has won the celebrity American Century Championship the past two years, but the guys whom he beat were named Mulder and Fish, not Koepka and McIlroy.

Romo is a plus-1.1 handicap at Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas. While that’s an impressive number to most of us, it’s not nearly good enough for the highest level. Certainly, he has shot under par a number of times. That’s how you get a plus-handicap.

But PGA Tour players have an average handicap of plus-5 or plus-6 at their home courses, based on some written reports and anecdotal evidence. It’s been reported that Tiger Woods was a plus-8 when he turned professional.

Dean Knuth, who once was the USGA’s handicap guru, told Golf Digest that Woods’ handicap didn’t drop below plus-10 in 2000. And that’s on some of the most difficult courses in the country.

Romo shot 2-under 70 in the first round of the Safeway in Napa, Calif., on Thursday, his lowest round in a PGA Tour event. Golf Channel invited him to the 18th-hole tower to talk with Terry Gannon and David Duval, a major champion and former No. 1-ranked player.

Instead of smiling and joking about how well he played, Romo took his round – and himself – much too seriously. As a result, he went out and shot 78 in the second round and missed the cut by six.

I wonder whether the executives at CBS were angry that Romo accepted a Tour sponsor exemption during football season. CBS pays Romo $4 million annually, but his three-year contract ends at the end of this season and his agent is asking for $10 million a year.

If Romo somehow had made the cut at Silverado, he was prepared to miss work. That’s about as selfish and arrogant as anything you’ve ever heard. If your employer pays you $4 million for only about 20 weeks, where would your priority and loyalty lie?

CBS was prepared to have Boomer Esiason to be the analyst alongside Jim Nantz at the Minnesota-Chicago game on Sunday. You’d have to wonder whether Esiason went so far as packing a bag.

"I love football. I love working for CBS. I love the fact that I get to be an analyst doing football games," Romo said on a media conference call before the NFL season began. But does he love golf more?

It’s more than OK for Romo to be obsessed with golf. A lot of us are. But it’s time to let go of this idea that he can play with the world’s best. He needs to go back home to Dallas and play with his buddies at Trinity Forest. If he has a competitive itch that has to be scratched, he would be more than welcome to try amateur golf, in Texas and nationally.

He’d have a reasonable chance to qualify for the U.S. Mid-Amateur, although the best mid-ams play a lot more competitive golf than Romo does. He’d be a welcome addition to any mid-am field, whether at home or away.

On second thought, the U.S. Mid-Am is usually conducted in mid-to-late September, just as the NFL season gets started. Maybe CBS would let him play, anyway – if he gives back some of that $4 million.

Mike Purkey has written about golf for more than 30 years for a number of publications, including Golf Magazine and Global Golf Post. He lives in Charlotte, N.C. Email: golfedit@gmail.com; Twitter: @mikepurkeygolf


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