THE WOODLANDS, Texas – Tony Romo failed in his bid to make the U.S. Open, so he’ll try to use the experience to help the Dallas Cowboys.
The star quarterback withdrew from a 36-hole sectional qualifier at The Club at Carlton Woods on Monday after it was delayed for the second time due to bad weather.
Romo was one of 36 players vying for two spots, and he shot a 1-under 71 in the first round to trail leader Casey Clendenon by only four shots.
He started his second round with a quadruple bogey and played three holes when air horns signaled the day’s second weather delay. Players were going to resume their unfinished second rounds on Tuesday, but Romo withdrew because the Cowboys return to practice then, and he said he is obligated to rejoin his team.
“It was fun, it was enjoyable and I made a good run at it,” Romo said. “It’s exciting to be competing, it’s fun to teach yourself lessons on the golf course about sports in general. I took away a few things that I’m going to use in football, so that’s a positive in that respect.”
Romo survived a four-man playoff May 20 to advance to the sectional qualifier, a rare feat for a professional athlete from another sport. But Romo said he’s fully committed to football and isn’t likely to ever take on golf as a second career.
“It’s hard for me to think about doing something else at a high, high level,” he said. “It’s fun to go out here on a day and compete and try and win on a day. But I don’t know if I could put in the time that would be needed to play or compete at that level, day in and day out. I don’t have any feeling or need to right now.”
The 30-year-old Romo took a triple bogey on the par-5 fourth after hooking his drive on the water-lined hole. He botched two pitch shots from deep rough along the edge of the pond, hit his approach into a greenside bunker and two-putted from about 20 feet for an 8.
Romo dropped his approach to the par-4 fifth hole about 10 feet away and sank the putt for his first birdie. A young fan said, “Nice birdie,” as Romo walked off the green and the quarterback answered, “I appreciate you.”
Air horns sounded off a few minutes later, and play was halted for two hours.
Romo changed into a red shirt and black shorts after the weather delay and played much better, making a birdie at the par-5 8th. He was proud of himself for bouncing back from the early disaster, one of the lessons he hopes to convey to his NFL teammates.
“On the football field, we’re going and all of a sudden, we have two drives that stall,” Romo said. “Everyone is saying, ‘What’s going on? Why haven’t we done anything?’ We’ll talk about it, we’ll learn from it, we’ll go out and execute on the next one. No matter what happened in the past, it’s about the next play and about going forward and I think that’s what I tried to do today, and I was very proud of fighting back.”
By the time he and playing partners Dustin Wigington and Thomas Hagler finished nine holes, the crowd around the group had swelled to about 100 people, many of them rabid Cowboys fans. A boy wearing a Romo jersey carried a football that he hoped Romo would sign after the round. Another follower had a Cowboys logo and star tattooed on his right calf.
Romo boarded a cart after nine holes and rode to the 10th tee. Troy Williams, 18, of The Woodlands, ran after the cart and got Romo to give him a signed golf glove.
Romo gave his fans something to cheer with birdie putts on Nos. 13 and 14. The quarterback pumped his fist after sinking both putts to move to 1-under par.
He parred his last four holes, missing a 10-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole.
“By not getting through, I didn’t do what I had hoped to do,” he said. “But it’s still a lesson to take certain things and use them mentally. The ability to overcome adversity is a great lesson. I really didn’t get emotionally down after I made a big number early. And to come up and post a score like that was very rewarding.”
The United States Golf Association said Romo would’ve become the fourth athlete from a professional team sport to qualify for the U.S. Open. He was trying to join a group that includes former San Francisco 49ers quarterback John Brodie (1959, ‘81), former New York Yankees outfielder Sam Byrd (1938-41, 46-47, 1949-51) and former NHL player Bill Ezinicki (1947, ‘52, ‘56, ‘60-61, 63-64, 67-68).
NFL kickers Ryan Longwell and Josh Scobee and former major-league pitcher John Smoltz failed to advance out of local qualifying this year, according to the USGA. Former NHL goalkeeper Grant Fuhr, retired tennis players Ivan Lendl and Michael Chang and former Miami tight end Brian Kinchen have also fallen short in qualifying in recent years.