Golf

Why Tony Romo has no expectations going into AT&T Byron Nelson

Tony Romo has a game plan.

He has a new putting grip.

He’s ready to compete in this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson at a course he’s a member at, Trinity Forest Golf Club.

The only thing Romo doesn’t have? Expectations.

“You really have none,” Romo explained after his team finished third in The Bush Institute’s Warrior Open on Monday.

“When I say that, you don’t want to put a ceiling on yourself cause that’s silly too. I know enough to know that’s not what you ever should do when you’re going into anything sports-related. At the same time, it really is just about continuing to improve and figuring out what your strengths and weaknesses are and what you have to work on. At some point, hopefully those weaknesses become strengths and you’re able to compete at a level that makes you proud and excited.”

Romo, 39, competed at the highest level of sports in the NFL. It’s fair to think he wants to compete, not just play, at the highest level of golf.

He has been all-in on golf for the last 14-15 months, treating the practice range and putting green as his office, just like he did with football. Heck, he even changed his putting grip to a split, hockey-style grip after a dreadful showing at the PGA Tour’s Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in late March.

Romo averaged 2.3 putts, posting scores of 79-80 and missing the cut by 17 strokes.

“Putting … so much of it is just how you can get yourself set up to see the line and then be freed up and let it go,” Romo said. “I struggled with that at Puntacana.”

Romo smiled and said: “I wasn’t married to anything [grip-wise]. I was open to any possibility of what stroke we were going to use. After practicing a ton, it just feels like a normal grip that is just extended. It’s a hockey grip.”

Whatever gets in the hole, right?

Romo made, or burned edges, on a fair share of putts during the Warrior Open, and feels his game is in good shape going into the tournament. He has posted scores of 65, 66 at Trinity Forest Golf Club, and will need to be at least a couple under par to be playing on the weekend.

The cut last year was 4-under.

“We have a game plan,” Romo said. “On certain holes you’ve got to know where to be. A lot of it is where the pin positions are and wind direction. This golf course is a second shot course. If you hit your irons well and you putt well, you can score out here. That’s going to be the game plan.”

Romo acknowledged he’ll have nerves when he steps to the first tee on Thursday. Yes, he’s played in PGA Tour events, but those were secondary events that coincided with World Golf Championship (WGC) tournaments.

Plus, they weren’t in North Texas. A lot of eyes will be on Romo as one of the top fan draws in this year’s tournament. Romo will have plenty of local support on the course.

He embraces that, being open to praise and, quite possibly, ridicule.

“If you want to compete, you want to play against the best,” Romo said. “Obviously I understand where I’m at comparatively to the guys in this field. These are the best of the best.

“For me, putting it on display is the enjoyable part. You’re going to succeed, you’re going to fail, you’re going to get better … it’s sports. At the end of the day, if you just keep improving, at some point, you’ll succeed hopefully. I just think it’s what drives you. It makes you want to get up everyday, get yourself out there and trying to improve every day. That’s what makes it fun.”

Does Romo feel like he has the talent to compete with the best of the best on the golf course? He compared his golf career at this point to his football career in 2003, when he joined the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent just trying to make the team.

Of course, Romo went on to have a wildly successful NFL career. Maybe he’ll do something similar in golf.

“For me, it’s the continued improvement and that’s the exciting part,” Romo said. “You can keep getting better and improve because it’s a difficult sport. It’s a puzzle. You could keep working at something here and never really improve if it’s not correct fundamentals and technique behind it.

“I’ve enjoyed the process of improving and there is no expectations as far as what level. I don’t know, no one has any idea. In football, you just want to get better, improve and make the team. Take the next step, take the next step ...”

What Vegas is saying

Oddsmakers on Tony Romo’s AT&T Byron Nelson, according to BetOnline

Will Romo make the cut?

Yes: +1800 (18/1)

No: -6600 (1/66)

How many shots will Romo miss the cut by?

Over/ under: 11 1/2

Romo’s highest score on any hole

Over/under: 7 1/2

Romo’s lowest score on any hole

Over/under: 2 1/2

Romo’s lowest score in any round

Over/ under: 75

Romo’s score on No. 1 in Round 1

Birdie or better: 13/4

Par: 5/6

Bogey or worse: 37/20

Will Romo finish in last place?

Yes: -130 (10/13)

No: EVEN (1/1)

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