Romo's PGA Tour Finish May Renew Sponsor Exemption Debate
Tony Romo shot 77-82 at Puntacana in the Dominican Republic
(USA Today photo)
PUNTA CANA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (March 23, 2018) - Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and current NFL commentator Tony Romo shot 77-82 in his PGA Tour debut at the Puntacana Resort & Club.
Romo, granted a sponsor's exemption to play against some of the world's best golfers, was steady for much of his first round, playing the first 12 holes in even par, but then lost 5 shots in four holes en route to a 5-over 77.
Once the bubble burst, Romo couldn't recover and was shaky the rest of the way. He bogeyed his first six holes of round two, then made three doubles on the way to an 82.
Romo's total of 159 was last in the field by six shots, and far from the cut which fell at 143. Dominican amateur Rhadames Pena was second to last after rounds of 71-82.
Romo is the latest in a string of celebrities who have received sponsor's exemptions to play in the PGA or Web.com Tours. Some have impressed but a debate has been sparked about the use of a sponsor's exemption on celebrities.
Related: Is the Celeb. Sponsor's Exemption Getting Out of Hand?
NBA basketball star Stephen Curry played in the Web.com Ellie Mae Classic last August, shooting two straight 74's, impressing many but still missing the cut by 11 shots.
In 2010, in the same year that he was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, Jerry Rice shot 83-76 at the Nationwide Tour (the forerunner to the Web.com Tour) Fresh Express Classic to miss the cut by 19 shots.
The most controversial sponsor's exemption in recent memory was given to Julio "The Machine" Bell, a 52-year-old former boxer who had only taken up golf 5 years before receiving an exemption into last month's Web.com Club Colombia Championship. Bell shot 93-105 and missed the cut by 56 shots.
The difference between Romo and the other celebrities receiving exemptions is that Romo has competed in amateur golf tournaments fairly consistently over the years. He has twice finished in the top 40 of the Azalea Amateur, and has a top 10 finish in the Kelly Cup on his resume. He played in last year's Western Amateur and shot 80-82 to miss the cut, and attempted to qualify for the U.S. Open.
The next celebrity to play on a sponsor's exemption will be Jake Owen, the Grammy Award winning country artist who will play the Web.com Nashville Golf Open in late May. Like those who came before him, Owen is a scratch golfer, but as those others have shown, the gap between scratch golf and the professional tours is as wide as it has ever been.