DALLAS — It was difficult to miss Tony Romo’s enthusiasm in his first words as he walked to the scoring tent after his second-round 74 at the AT&T Byron Nelson on Friday.
“I think we’ve got a chance,” Romo said.
Romo’s 74 left him at 8-over for the tournament and well off the cut line to play the weekend in a PGA Tour event for the first time, but the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback shot his best round in his third sponsor’s exemption over the last two years.
“I think more than anything, I got a sense to be able to hit a lot of high-quality shots under what is a pressure situation for me,” Romo said. “That’s encouraging and shows that the work you’re doing holds up when it counts. And from there, you just got to find the little things that allow you to keep things going and not derail a round. Just small stuff, technique-wise, but we’re coming on.”
Romo hit nine of 14 fairways and 11 greens Friday after hitting just six fairways and eight greens in Thursday’s first round. He shot 40 on the back nine Thursday and was even par on Nos. 10-18 on Friday (his first nine), including a 17-foot birdie on the par-5 14th hole.
He got to as low as 4-over with a birdie on the par-5 first hole for the second straight day and as high as 9-over with three bogeys and a double-bogey in a five-hole stretch. He moved back to 8-over with a birdie on No. 7 for the second straight day, nearly made a birdie on No. 8 and hit a pitch to within 2 feet for par on No. 9, a hole he double-bogeyed Thursday.
“I hit so many good shots today,” Romo said. “I mean, I kind of know that the driver is going to be the ability to go low because you have to put yourself in position to attack the pins consistently. I think you found the next step of what we’re going to be working on [with the driver]. I think it’s more just your ability to keep your misses small. Out here, golf is a game of misses.”
Scottie Scheffler, who also received a sponsor’s exemption, shot a second-round 69 and came away impressed with Romo’s improvement. He played with Romo at the Web.com Tour qualifying school last September, and he has played with Romo at different courses over the years.
“It’s drastically different,” Scheffler said of Romo’s game. “When we played together at first stage, he was going through a lot of swing changes, so he didn’t really have his best game. But this week, those first nine holes, I was pretty impressed. He’s made a lot of improvements. I mean even from when I played with him a couple of months ago, he’s gotten a lot better.”
Romo’s other playing partner, Dylan Frittelli, grew up in South Africa and did not know who Romo was until he arrived at the University of Texas.
“His golf is really good,” said Frittelli, who is 3-under through two rounds. “I’ve heard from other guys who’ve played with him in mini-Tour stuff and amateur events in the States, ‘Oh, he’s pretty good. He can hold his own.’ But I didn’t expect that [level of play], to be honest. He’s got all the pieces to the puzzle to be a really good golfer.
“As we were chatting around the course, his driver is the one weak point right now. If he can tighten that up … it’s just a matter of time. You could see he was much more comfortable today. He was used to the people and the crowd and the way the course is playing. So a lot more experience will definitely help. If he keeps making jumps like that, I mean I’m not going to say he’s going to get on Tour, but he can definitely play some mini-Tour stuff, make some money and get some invites here and there and surely make the cut. If he keeps playing, he’s definitely going to be able to make a cut on the PGA Tour.”