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Back Spasms Sack Tony Romo's Latest Qualifying Attempt

Despite withdrawing from Wednesday's U.S. Amateur qualifier in Gladewater, Texas, the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback remains unfazed by qualifying failures.
Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, a two-time American Century Celebrity Championship winner, failed to advance at Wednesday's U.S. Amateur qualifier. 

Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, a two-time American Century Celebrity Championship winner, failed to advance at Wednesday's U.S. Amateur qualifier. 

GLADEWATER, Texas — Tony Romo added to his 0-for-2021 golf qualifying tour on Wednesday.

Romo, the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and current CBS football analyst, missed out on U.S. Amateur qualifying at the new Tempest Golf Club. This followed his May miss at U.S. Open local qualifying and his April failure to make the 36-hole cut at the Korn Ferry Tour’s Veritex Bank Championship.

But despite his most recent setback, Romo said nothing can dampen his love for non-football competition against golfers — some of who are half his age, 41, and had only seen him perform on the football field.

“I just like to compete,” said Romo after an opening 4-over 76 tied him for 36th, seven shots out of the two qualifying chances in the 36-hole qualifier. Romo, citing back issues, withdrew seven holes into his afternoon round. “I like to play. It’s fun for me.

“Don’t you want to compete? Who doesn’t? It’s fun to get out to learn from these good players. Maybe I’ll even get one of these things (qualifying) some time. You have to keep trying to get better.”

Romo is already plotting his next competitive opportunity — the 2021 Texas State Open later this month in Tyler, another event he has previously failed to make the cut.

“I’ve seen what [NBA player] Steph [Curry] has done and what I’ve done in the Korn Ferry Tour and it’s competing, just wanting to get better. That’s what I’m about.”

Romo is as serious about his golf as some of the professional grinders he finds himself competing against regularly. He's been competing in USGA and PGA Tour events for more than a decade. His biggest success was advancing to the 2010 U.S. Open sectional qualifying at Carton Woods Golf Club in The Woodlands, Texas and qualifying for PGA Tour Qualifying School’s first stage in 2018. Also, he is a two-time winner of the American Century Celebrity Championship.

Romo hired Dallas golf teacher Chris O’Connell, who has worked with Tour players Matt Kuchar and Hunter Mahan, to refine his game. Also, Romo is constantly picking the brains of good friends and Tour players Jordan Spieth and Scottie Scheffler on how to improve his swing and mental outlook.

Romo has regular games with his PGA Tour pals at his home courses — Maridoe Golf Club outside of Dallas and Trinity Forest Golf Club, the former home of the PGA Tour’s AT&T Byron Nelson, which Romo has also played and also failed to make the cut.

“The good players, they are more consistent, they don’t miss a shot,” he said. “This is a game where one shot can be a huge difference. I’ve played with some (Korn Ferry) guys and they are good, but for some reason, they’re not at the PGA Tour level yet.”

Wednesday’s rounds at the new Jeffrey Brauer-designed par-72 Tempest unfolded like many of Romo’s previous qualifying attempts. Romo arrived, via private jet from his home in Dallas to nearby Longview, to find more than 100 fans waiting for him on the first tee.

Many were wearing their Romo-numbered Cowboys jerseys or carrying jerseys, helmets, hats and trading cards for Romo to sign.

Romo’s appearance inspired Jonathan Hernandez and his son Jonah to get up at 4 a.m. Wednesday to make the two-hour drive from their home in Irving and see Romo in person.

“I love Tony Romo, he is my favorite player, and it’s pretty cool to see him in person,” said Hernandez, who wore a white Romo jersey while his son wore an olive-colored jersey. They walked all 18 holes of Romo’s morning round while carrying a framed Romo jersey.

Kiyras Ingram, of Longview, said seeing Romo on the golf course reminded him of all the times he saw him compete on the football field.

“I watched him seemingly every Sunday night on TV,” he said. “The only sad part was when the game was over and I had to go back to work the next morning. This is awesome.”

While he had less than 30 minutes between the first and second rounds at Tempest, Romo entertained a wide number of fans and autograph seekers, signing anything presented to him, waving, shaking hands and taking photos.

“I just want to go practice some seven-foot left-to-right putts on the practice green before we play this afternoon, that’s what gave me trouble this morning,” Romo told his caddy.

Romo said he’s not concerned in the least that all of his golf qualifying failings could somehow damage his standing as a former NFL star and current TV commentator.

“It’s great to see people out to watch me,” he said. “They may not always have been there, but they are here now. I’m done caring about how people perceive me, I just want to be the best I can be. I quit caring about what people thought about me a long time ago in golf, football and now TV.”

Near the midway point of his second round Romo was forced to withdraw after back spasms dropped him to his knees by the 16th green. Romo was carted to the clubhouse where there were more smiles and waves while signing autographs, taking pictures and accommodating interview requests.

“It’s fascinating to see the inside of another sport and see what they do,” he said. “You can always try to do what they do, they don’t try what I did.”

Then Romo grabbed a cold beverage at the large clubhouse, walked gingerly to his waiting car and headed back to his private jet for the short trip home.

No doubt, there will be more qualifying attempts.