“I’ve never played in front of football fans who had no clue about golf. It was hilarious,” said Frittelli, who was teammates with Jordan Spieth on University of Texas’ national championship team in 2012.
Frittelli recalled the scene on No. 7, a 570-yard par 5. Romo, the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback, chipped in for eagle from 65 feet, 10 inches, something that got the gallery and Romo himself fired up.
Frittelli followed with a similar length chip and got it to within four feet, making a birdie.
“He hit a great shot, an amazing shot to make an eagle,” Frittelli said. “I hit a pretty good shot and made birdie. Not one person clapped.”
Frittelli paused and smiled.
“Tony Romo made an eagle and here I am only making a birdie,” Frittelli said, chuckling.
Unfortunately for Romo, his round unraveled after that.
He drove it out of bounds on No. 9, which led to a double bogey, and another wild drive on No. 13 produced another double bogey.
In fact, his front nine was so adventurous that he was forced to call a rules official three times.
On the par-5 first hole, which Romo birdied, his drive landed in standing water. On the fourth hole, his ball landed on an ant hill in a hazard (from which he got relief). And on No. 9, he needed a general relief from hazard clarification.
Romo missed mid-length putts down the stretch, too, as he finished with a 5-over 76. That is tied for 148th place, better than just four golfers in the field. Denny McCarthy posted the low round on Thursday with an 8-under 63.
“A couple tee shots really cost me just because they’re penal in those areas,” Romo said. “You can’t miss them there. The separation between these guys is the ability to do it for long stretches, consistency.”
The most frustrating tee ball for Romo happened on No. 9, a 505-yard par 4. During a practice round on Monday, Romo hit his tee shot way right, telling yours truly: “That’s OK. You just can’t miss it left here.”
Well, he missed it left on No. 9, hooking it deep into the hazard.
“I went left,” Romo said, shaking his head. “You can miss it 30 yards off line right there and still be OK. It was mostly just the feeling of thinking that you were able to swing away and just kind of stop the body and that happened a little bit on the back-9. Technically, I wasn’t quite as sequenced as I was earlier.”
Romo missed the fairway right on No. 13, landing in a thick native area where he could only punch out. His third shot landed short of the green, and he missed an 8-footer for bogey.
Romo missed the fairway again on No. 14, a par-5 that ranked as one of the easiest holes on the day. But Romo was one of just 11 players who bogeyed it, missing a 6-footer for par.
Romo had another bogey on No. 15 after he lost his drive in the native area to the left.
On the day, Romo hit just six of 14 fairways.
“That was disappointing,” Romo said. “I thought I was going to drive it much better than I did. That’s why we weren’t able to keep the pace we had early and that’s going to be the key moving forward is just getting yourself in position to attack these pins and some of these holes.”
Frittelli pointed to the drive on No. 9 as the point where Romo may have lost some confidence, and never truly recovered down the stretch. Romo had a great look at birdie on No. 16, but pulled a 6-footer and did the same on a 9-footer that would’ve saved par on No. 17.
“He played really well today. I was impressed,” said Frittelli, ranked No. 95 in the world. “He could’ve shot even par today. If he didn’t hit a bad one on No. 9, he would’ve been confident on the back nine and played a whole lot better. I think even par or 1-over would’ve been a really good round for him, but even what he shot was really good. He beat a few pros.”
Romo wasn’t ready to describe his emotions, whether it’s deflated or encouraged, after the round. He planned to hit a few drives at the practice range and said he’ll have a better answer following Friday’s round.
So what is the mindset for Round 2, as Romo and his group tees off No. 10 at 8:30 a.m.?
“Go low,” Romo said, smiling.