It’s good to have dreams, even when you’re an accomplished and retired professional athlete.
Tony Romo’s days playing quarterback are over and that will free him up to make another run at qualifying for America’s golf national championship. Romo will be in the field for a U.S. Open local qualifier at Split Rail Links and Golf Club in Texas on Monday.
The USGA accepted 9,485 entries for local qualifying this year. That group will play 18 holes at 113 local qualifying sites across the country. The USGA will whittle them down to under 900 or so, who then get to play at 10 sectional qualifying sites the week before the U.S. Open. About 55 will make it through sectional qualifying and into the actual U.S. Open, played this year at Erin Hills in Wisconsin.
So Romo is one of 9,500 trying to play his way into a group of about 55 (there are officially 51 exempt spots for qualifiers, but a handful of alternates will make it, too).
Now, you have be a player just to sign up as one of the original 9,500. The USGA requires a $150 entry fee and a handicap index not exceeding a 1.4 (close to scratch) in order to play in local qualifying. So already, Romo is an accomplished golfer by just being eligible to qualify. But let’s not delude ourselves into thinking he will be one of the 55-60 getting a tee time at the U.S. Open in June.
Romo has tried this a couple times before, but hasn’t attempted to qualify since 2011. In 2010, he actually made it out of local qualifying and into sectionals — that’s an enormous accomplishment on its own. At sectionals, he shot a 71 that put him in 10th after the morning session, made a quadruple bogey on the first hole of the afternoon 18, and withdrew from the event. While that quad bogey put him well back of having a realistic chance of becoming the one of two qualifiers coming out of that sectional, there were also multiple weather delays, which would have pushed the qualifying into a second day that conflicted with a Cowboys OTA. He won’t have that problem this year.
Romo’s friend Mike Rausch is grouped with the QB on Monday, according to USA Today. Rausch said he doesn’t know much about Romo’s form of late. “[Romo] hasn’t played much,” Rausch told USA Today. “He’s coming back from injury, so I’m not sure where his game is right now. From talking to the guy who works on his clubs and plays with him, I hear he’s putting really well. He’s always been a good putter.”
The qualifying process is a cool way of keeping the national championship truly “open,” but the odds are quite long. A handicap of 1.4 makes you a better player than millions but also often leaves you well short of being able to compete for a U.S. Open spot. You need to have some of the rounds of your life and also probably catch some luck. So when Romo inevitably doesn’t make it and you want to make your played joke about him failing under pressure, remember he’s still way better at golf than you.