Tony Romo is a terrific golfer. That much is beyond debate. According to the USGA, his reported index of +0.4 is better than roughly 99% of golfers with an official handicap. He can hit 300+ yard drives and he can pull off flop shots. On his day, he is good enough to shoot around par on any course in the world. He’s a stick, the guy everyone at the club loves to play with.
But being a terrific golfer does not mean you are good enough to be a PGA Tour player. Or a European Tour player. Or a Web.com Tour player, for that matter.
Romo has learned this the hard way. He’s played in the PGA Tour’s…deep breath…Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship each of the past two years. That event, played opposite the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, year-after-year features one of the weakest fields of any Tour event. The first go ‘round, he shot 77-82 (+15), missed the cut by 16 and finished dead last. Then, in March, he shot 79-80 (+15), missed the cut by 17 shots and beat exactly one person. In four PGA Tour rounds, his average score is 79.5.
Last September, he attempted to play his way onto the Web.com Tour through qualifying school. After getting through pre-qualifying, Romo shot a four-day total of +13 at the first stage, 24 shots back of the number needed to advance to the next round. Those who make it past second stage move on to the third and final stage, and only in that tournament are Web.com starts up for grabs.
All that to say: if his previous play is any indication, Romo is a long, long way off from being able to compete with even journeyman touring pros.
Thanks to his illustrious non-golf résumé—a four-time Pro Bowl quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, with movie-star good looks, who is also a preposterously good broadcaster—he will get another chance to prove himself this week. Romo has received a sponsor’s invitation to play in the AT&T Byron Nelson at his home course, Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas.
“I’m the undrafted rookie trying to make it,” Romo told ESPN.com.
Since the Super Bowl—which he called alongside Jim Nantz, who will be on the call for CBS this weekend—he’s had a solid three months to work on his game. He says he’s working on it harder than ever and improving steadily. He’s switched to a new, funky putting style in an attempt to improve on a putrid 2.3 putts per hole at this year’s Corales.
A shocking number of people are convinced of his progress. Either that, or they enjoy hemorrhaging money. According to golf oddsmaker Jeff Sherman, Romo (10,000-1) has received more bets to win the Byron Nelson—not just make the cut, but win—than any other player.
Of course, he has no chance to win the event. Absolutely none. His odds of making the cut are well under 50%—let’s remember, this is a big-boy tournament that Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth are playing in.
Still, this feels like Romo’s best chance ever to make the weekend at a PGA Tour event and silence those who feel he’s taking a spot from a more deserving player. He’s been practicing like a professional for months. He’s playing his home course. He’s 39 and not getting any younger. If he can’t muster a respectable showing—finishing within six shots of the cut feels about right—perhaps Romo should accept that he is a terrific golfer, but not quite good enough to be a professional golfer.