The most recognizable golfer in this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson isn’t a member of the PGA Tour and has virtually no chance of winning the tournament, which begins Thursday at Trinity Golf Club in Dallas. Former Cowboys quarterback and current CBS football analyst Tony Romo will be in his third tour event, recipient of a sponsor’s exemption.

Tony Romo
Tony Romo, who received a sponsor’s exemption, is probably the most recognizable face in this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson. (Image: Getty)

It makes sense from a tournament organizer’s perspective. Romo is wildly popular in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. His appearance at this event will help drive ticket sales, especially since most of the top golfers are skipping this week to focus on next week’s PGA Championship.

Brooks Koepka, who is ranked No. 3 in the Official World Golf Rankings, is the only one in the top 20 here this week. The next highest ranked golfer is Australian Mark Leishman, who finished second here last year.

Not surprisingly Koepka is the favorite at 13/2, according to the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. Hideki Matsuyama, who is ranked 29th, is next at 16/1. Leishman is at 25/1.

Popularity Reason for Invitation

So it is not surprising that Byron Nelson officials would eagerly extend Romo an invitation. It’s smart if you want some crowds to show up for the first two days.

Those should be the days Romo fans should plan on coming out to see the former quarterback. In his two previous tournaments, he wasn’t around for the weekend. Romo got sponsor’s exemptions for the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic and failed to make the cut in either. In 2018 he shot 77-82 and this year carded rounds of 79 and 80.

Romo is under no illusions that he has a chance of winning, and the oddsmakers enthusiastically agree. The Westgate has him as a 10,000/1 pick to win the event. The sportsbook also has the over/under of his first round at 77.5.

“Obviously I understand where I’m at comparatively to the guys in this field,” Romo said. “These are the best of the best. How you improve is being around them, watching them and thinking about it and practicing. For me, putting it on display is the enjoyable part.”

Journey Continues Towards Goal

That doesn’t mean Romo is discouraged from trying to become a professional golfer, nor does he have any designs on quitting on his dream. He is signed up to try and qualify for this year’s US Open at Pebble Beach. After the Bryon Nelson, he will be traveling to McKinney, Texas for the local qualifying at TPC Craig Ranch on Monday.

This will be the fourth time Romo has attempted to play in the major championship. He has only advanced to sectional qualifying once, in 2010, but never made the US Open field.

It hasn’t all been struggles for the 39-year-old. Last July he captured the American Century Championship celebrity tournament in Lake Tahoe. Romo said his golf career is just beginning.

“I think that’s part of anything that’s important to you,” he said. “And then from there it’ll calm down a little bit, each shot and each hole. I’ve just got to get off to a good start and see what happens.”

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