PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — When Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who is partnered with Tiger Woods in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, steps up to the first tee on Thursday at Spyglass Hill, expect him to have his Sunday game face on. Romo, a plus-three handicap listed as scratch for the tournament, isn’t the average celebrity or amateur partner who is playing in the event for kicks and giggles.
He’s taking it rather seriously.
“Tony is very competitive,” said Joe LaCava, Woods’s caddie. “You can see the competitive blood in him. He’s all wound up because he doesn’t get any shots, so he knows he’s got to do some damage naturally, but he’s good, he’ll do it.”
If Romo does well this week it won’t be the first time he has played competitive golf with some success. He advanced to a sectional qualifier for the 2010 U.S. Open and also got past the pre-qualifying event at the 2010 HP Byron Nelson Championship. Both times football interfered. A rain delay at the Open qualifier pushed his second round back a day, and Romo withdrew because of Cowboys obligations. After making it into the Monday qualifier for the Nelson, he skipped it because of a conflict with a voluntary team workout.
Football has not gotten in the way of his Pebble preparation, however. Romo has had a few weeks to work on his game because the Cowboys didn’t make the playoffs. When he eventually hangs up his cleats, Romo hopes to give it a run on the mini tours or the Champions Tour.
"He’s been grinding hard," Woods said Tuesday. “It’s been cool to see. He's been calling me quite a bit, sending me video of his swing, [saying] what can I do, what can I do, blah, blah, blah. He's into the game."
Romo, who played a practice round at Monterey Peninsula Country Club on Wednesday morning with Hunter Mahan, Zack Miller and amateurs George Roberts and Tom Dundon, got a little chipping lesson from Woods in person when the two met up at the short game practice area later in the day.
“[Tiger] was just trying to get him to open up the face a little bit more and get him through it a little softer instead of closing the face down and kind of hitting it so hard,” explained LaCava. “Just a little feel, touch, nothing crazy.”
Romo said the tip "will be something I’ll be able to use. Tiger’s got a wealth of knowledge. It’ll help me for sure."
Asked to elaborate on Tiger’s tip, Romo acted like it was a football play that he couldn’t share with competitors. “I can’t tell you that stuff,” he said.
Romo said he’s looking forward to getting back to the competitive arena and seeing how he reacts under pressure, which he can use as a tool to improve in football.
“You’ve got to be able to come back from a couple bogeys the same way you come back on Sunday,” Romo said. “Mentally, you’ve got to put yourself in the moment, hit the right shot and make the right pass. It’s exciting for me to feel that and be out there. I just love competition, and Tiger is a great guy, so we’ll enjoy it.”
Late in the afternoon, when most players had left for the day, Romo was still at the driving range pounding balls. Before leaving, he signed autographs for a group of about 20 fans who had been waiting in the stands by the guardrail.
“Tony, can we get some pictures?” asked a woman.
“Sorry, guys," said Romo, who sounded genuinely apologetic as he started to walk away.
“Please?” she persisted.
Romo turned around and posed for the shot.