Tony Romo fires solid round in PCCC opening day

Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo drew the crowds in his grand return to the Ozarks on Thursday, interacting with spectators even during his round before gladly signing autographs and posing for selfies afterward.

Yet now comes the challenge: Can he make the cut and advance to the weekend of the PGA Korn Ferry Tour’s Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper?

Romo fired an even-par 72 on the opening day of the 32nd annual PCCC at Highland Springs Country Club, where he threatened to sink several birdies before putts seemed allergic to the cup. He’ll need those Friday in a tournament that traditionally sees its weekend groups going on birdie binges.

For instance, morning round leader Chase Johnson finished at 9-under par 63 thanks to birdying half the 18  holes.

Still …

“It’s fun having (spectators) around. The support was great today, and you could feel the energy if you made a good putt or hit a good shot,” said Romo, who drew a following of roughly 60 fans after he began his round on No. 10.

He won them over early. On the par-5 No. 11, he rallied to make par after his tee shot flew left into the left-side trees and his second approach sliced into trees on the right side of the fairway. After sinking his putt, he turned to the crowd and said, “It looked like a 5 all the way.”

On the par-5 No. 8, he reached the green in two shots thanks to using a 3-wood on his drive and approach and told the gallery, “It looked like you needed some excitement.”

Still, Romo expressed frustration, saying that he should have carded a 68. He birdied two holes and bogeyed twice (3, 6), but left some birdies out there. Four putts on his first nine holes – they were roughly 12-, 17-, 20 and 15-yard yard attempts – were just short of the cup.

“I did a lot of good things. I was 2-under going into my 12th hole on No. 3, and hit a really big drive,” Romo said, explaining he was about 66 yards from the cup on the par-4 before his approach landed on the other side of the green, on a slope.

“I was sitting there perfect, and then hit it a little too aggressively. That’s the one right there that I thought I could have gotten to a 3.”

Romo’s appearance came a year after he played four holes and then withdrew after experiencing pain in his left wrist. After Thursday’s round, he said he ultimately had a hamate bone surgically removed after last year’s PCCC.

The weekend?

“I’m excited about (Friday). I think I can shoot a pretty low number. Today was a little about getting over the nerves,” said Romo, who is playing on an unrestricted exemption. “It’s doable. Sometimes, the swing, just the momentum of it, will get you going. Today, I didn’t take advantage of some of the opportunities.”

Meanwhile, Johnson was the leader after Thursday’s  morning round. He birdied Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 12, 16 and 18.

 

 

 

PCCC’s Opening Day headliner: Ex-Cowboys QB Tony Romo

Throw on your sandals and sundress — or golf polo – and head to southeast Springfield as the future of the PGA Tour, along with former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, return to the Ozarks.

The PGA Korn Ferry Tour’s Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper makes its 32nd annual turn this weekend at Highland Springs Country Club, with the pros playing Thursday through Sunday.

The tournament is benefitting 51 Ozarks children’s charities after having gifted more than $17.3 million since its inaugural tournament in 1990. Price Cutter Supermarkets has been the presenting or title sponsor now for 23 years, with more than 92 percent of the overall gifting having come during its involvement.

“We think this is going to be a great tournament, especially with the return of spectators,” Tournament Executive Director Jerald Andrews said. “We’ve been planning for a year, and we certainly hope more businesses and individuals will join us as we help our local charities.”

The tournament helps decide 50 PGA Tour cards for next season and will have a purse of $600,000, with the winner to receive a check for $108,000. Tee times Thursday and Friday begin shortly after 7 a.m.

In the field on an unrestricted exemption is Romo, who quarterbacked the National Football League’s Cowboys from 2004 to 2016, guiding Dallas to four playoff berths and himself earning four Pro Bowl selections. He has since worked as a TV analyst on NFL broadcasts, with the 42-year-old trying to make it on the Korn Ferry Tour.

He is among the numerous storylines this weekend. For instance:

  • Carr Vernon, a 2016 Poplar Bluff High School graduate and former All-State selection, received the other unrestricted exemption. He is a four-time winner on the Minor League Golf Tour this season. He also has had one runner-up finish and 10 Top 10 finishes.
  • Parking & shuttles: Parking is $3 and is just off East Stan Musial Drive, across the street from the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. An entrance gate is nearby, close to the No. 4 tee box, and fans can catch the shuttle on the nearby boulevard leading to the clubhouse.
  • Free tickets today & Friday: Folks who would like a free daily pass today can visit USA Mortgage at 3100 S. National Ave. Suite 201 in Springfield. Free tickets for Friday are at OakStar Bank, 1020 E. Battlefield Road. A daily pass is $10.
  • Other tickets: The tournament also has a four-day Ozarks Club pass ($150) good for all four days. The $25 TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes tickets (grand prizes being a 2021 Toyota Tundra or $10,000) are close to sold out. Contact any of the PCCC charities through pricecuttercc.org/charities.
  • Honoring Our Heroes presented by Honor Flight of the Ozarks and Reliable Chevrolet: All retired/current military, law enforcement, first responders and nurses will be admitted free. Please visit the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame for tickets.
  • Go Blue Fore Autism Championship Sunday: Please wear blue on Sunday as The Arc of the Ozarks raises awareness about autism.

Who was hot last week?

Taylor Moore’s first career victory took him over the 1,650-point threshold the Korn Ferry Tour is currently using as its fail-safe number for players to finish inside the top 25 of the 2020-21 points standings and earn a PGA TOUR card for this fall. No one applied much pressure on him Sunday at the Memorial Health Championship presented by LRS either.

 

Moore opened the week with consecutive 5-under 66s and stood T10 at the conclusion of the second round. An 11-under 60 (nine birdies, one eagle) in the third round broke the Panther Creek Country Club course record and the tournament’s 18-hole scoring record, moving Moore into T1 position. Moore took a two-stroke lead by the turn Sunday; he maintained that advantage until 54-hole co-leader Erik Barnes bogeyed the par-3 17th and made it a three-stroke margin.

 

Moore’s victory was his first in 94 career starts on the Korn Ferry Tour.

 

On The 25 bubble, Justin Lower’s T11 moved him back up to 24th and bumped Austin Smotherman to 26th. Erik Barnes’ solo second took him from 43rd to 27th, putting him within 15 points of Paul Haley II, who slipped from 24th to 25th following a missed cut.

How about our 2020 champ?

 Defending champion Max McGreevy is one of a handful of players on the verge of crossing the 1,650-point threshold and securing a PGA TOUR card. The University of Oklahoma alum will also bid to become the first player in Korn Ferry Tour history to successfully defend his title.

 

The field features eight of the top 10 players in the 2020-21 Korn Ferry Tour points standings, as well as 21 of the top 25, and 26 of the top 31. With three regular season events remaining, less than 125 points separate players ranked 24th through 31st.

Race to Secure 25 PGA Tour cards

Here is a look at the top of the latest Korn Ferry Tour standings through 40 events of the 2020-21 schedule.

 

This season’s schedule will conclude with 25 PGA TOUR cards awarded at the 2021 Pinnacle Bank Championship presented by Aetna (Aug. 12-15), with an additional 25 cards awarded through the Korn Ferry Tour Finals at the conclusion of the 2021 Korn Ferry Tour Championship presented by United Leasing & Finance (Sept. 2-5). With eight events remaining in the regular season, the Korn Ferry Tour is currently using the 1,650-point threshold as its fail-safe number for players to finish inside the top 25.