Tony Romo makes USGA debut at Four-Ball alongside 6’9 partner Tommy Morrison
Tony Romo makes his USGA championship debut on Saturday in Kiawah Island, South Carolina, and like much of his NFL days, the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback’s blind side will be well protected.
At 6 feet, 9 inches tall, Tommy Morrison, Romo’s partner for this week’s U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship, could be mistaken for a left tackle. But the 18-year-old Texan is one of the top freshmen in the country having recently helped the Longhorns through last week’s NCAA regional round as the squad’s highest finisher.
Together, Romo and Morrison are one of 128 teams that will begin the week at Kiawah Island Club with hopes of winning Wednesday’s final match.
“It’s an exciting week to be able to go and see how good we can be,” Romo told reporters Friday. “I know Tommy is playing well. He’s really dialed in. His game is sharp right now. This is the best I’ve seen him in his young career and he’s obviously young, so he should have a progression. He really has progressed, and I think you’ll see that this week. I’m not young, but I’m young as far as starting this about five, six years ago, and I think I’m finally turning the corner where I actually have gotten to be a pretty tight game and I don’t have glaring weaknesses.
“I feel like most of the stuff is giving me an opportunity to score on a pretty good level day in and day out and compete against these guys.”
Romo and Morrison met about three years ago through mutual friends and play a decent number of rounds together back home in Dallas. When Morrison needed a partner for this championship, he, at No. 253 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, could’ve teamed up with another top-400 player and been exempt through qualifying. But instead, Morrison texted Romo about teaming up.
“I was like, well, I got myself a partner,” Romo recalled, “so here we go.”
Then last October, the pair fired a 9-under 63 at Winter Creek Golf Club in Blanchard, Oklahoma, with Romo carding eight birdies on his own ball, to advance to this championship.
Romo, who now works as an NFL analyst for CBS, had previously attempted to qualify multiple times for both the U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur but had been unsuccessful each time.
“I think people underestimate him on the golf course,” Morrison said of Romo. “I think he’s got a lot of talent, and when he putts it well, he can shoot a really low number, and that’s exactly what he did in our qualifier to get here. … I did not have my best stuff in the qualifier, and he did.”
Lately, though, it’s been Morrison at the top of his game. The towering frosh, who wears a size 14 shoe, enrolled at Texas in January and cracked the lineup four times in the regular season, though he finished in the top 35 just once and didn’t make the trip to the Big 12 Championship. However, Texas head coach John Fields opened up a few spots in the team’s NCAA regional lineup to qualifying, and Morrison closed the six-round competition with a 63 at Escondido in Austin. He then tied for ninth this past Wednesday at Eagle Eye Golf Club in Bath, Michigan, as Texas earned the fifth and final ticket to Grayhawk.
“It’s a great time to have some stuff click, especially with the next two weeks being super important,” said Morrison, who tees off in the first round of the NCAA Championship on Friday afternoon in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Morrison isn’t worried about burnout, even with potentially nine competitive rounds and eight matches in 17 days should he reach finals at both the Four-Ball and NCAAs.
“Coach [John] Fields was very nice to let this happen,” Morrison said. “But I’ve played multiple weeks back-to-back in a row. I think any time you come to a USGA venue, you get a little fire in you to keep playing. I think the adrenaline I have will keep me going.”
Romo then chimed in: “And he’s so young.”
Added Morrison: “Plenty of naps.”
Romo said there is no elaborate game plan this week despite the team structure. They know they’ll need to make a bunch of birdies while at the same time, Romo says, keeping things simple and focused on the fundamentals. More runs up the middle, fewer Statue of Liberty play calls.
“Ultimately, you should be going out there to play your own game and just doing what gives you the best opportunity to create the best score on that hole, and so you make the decisions based on that,” Romo said. “When you start thinking about the other things, I think more people hurt themselves. … Team stuff is different because you’re letting down somebody and so things become – shouldn’t be. Everything should be the same. … Don’t let your mind go places.
“We’re not dumb either. If he hits a ball or I hit a ball in the water, the other guy might not hit a certain shot. When that comes up, we’ll then adjust. Before then, you’re just playing.”
Romo’s stretching routines might be more intricate.
“I probably have to warm up my body a little bit less than he does,” Morrison quipped, inciting a few laughs from reporters.
To which Romo responded: “You guys will all get old one day. After a couple back surgeries, you have no choice.”