Tony Romo parred the 18th hole to card a 7-over-par 79 in the first round of the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic on Thursday.
Breaking 80 appeared to be a longshot after the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and current CBS Sports analyst triple-bogeyed the eighth hole and made the turn in 6-over 42. However, he steadied the ship with eight pars on the back nine, narrowly missing a birdie on the 17th and executing a spectacular shot from a green-side bunker on 18.
“I think it was somewhat nerves early on,” Romo told the Golf Channel. “I missed a few short putts that you feel like you’d normally make. And then just a bad swing on eight that cost me a triple-bogey. It’s hard to get birdies out here, just the wind – and the back nine is over 4,000 yards.
“You kinda want to stay around par, I think. You have to have a good short game on some of these holes, and I didn’t do that early. And then I kind of got comfortable, and the last 10 holes or so I was 1 over. I hit some good shots, so I just have to keep getting comfortable and play golf in these types of situations and then it gets easier.”
Romo is playing in the event for the second consecutive year after missing the cut in 2018. As he finished his opening round, he was 13 shots back of leader Matt Jones and ahead of only Troy Matteson (84, withdrew) from the morning wave.
“I think a lot of it, without having played as much on this stage … tournament golf in general, you work on stuff,” Romo said. “Then all of a sudden you have a different wind direction. … It’s just a little harder than what you see. The greens are a little firmer, the shots are a little tougher, all that adds up over time.
“I think you want to really compete with yourself a little bit and see how good you can get. I play with a lot of these guys back home, and when you play with them you see how talented they really are. The thing that stands out is their consistency.”
Jones tames windy track
Jones shot a 6-under 66 in windy conditions at the Corales Golf Club, making seven birdies against a lone bogey.
Venezuela’s Jhonnatan Vegas was three shots off the pace. Playing in the event for the first time, the world’s 80th-ranked player finished third at The Players Championship two weeks ago. He managed to hit only three greens, but made several up-and-downs in his 3-under 69.
“I felt like it was good,” Vegas told the Golf Channel of his round. “I felt conditions were going to be a little bit better this morning, but the wind was blowing hard from the beginning. It was hard to control the ball. I managed to make some great up-and-downs, which here you have to do that.”
“It was a positive start in this weather.”
NOTES: The winner will earn 300 FedEx Cup points, be fully exempt on the PGA Tour through the 2020-21 season and earn spots in this year’s PGA Championship and the Sentry Tournament of Champions and The Players Championship in 2020. … Brice Garnett led wire-to-wire last year, winning by four shots over Keith Mitchell. … Tour rookie Sungjae Im is ranked No. 59 in the world and has a mathematical chance to rise into the Top 50 and earn a spot in the Masters.
–Derek Harper (@DerekAHarper), Field Level Media