Tony Romo, the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and current lead analyst for CBS Sports’ NFL coverage, will play in the Safeway Open at Napa’s Silverado Resort and Spa in September on a sponsor invitation, tournament executive director Jeff Sanders announced.
The Safeway Open, scheduled for Sept. 23-29 on the Silverado North Course, is the third event of the PGA Tour’s 2019-2020 schedule.
“I’m thankful to Bob Miller (Chairman and CEO of Albertsons, parent company of Safeway), Safeway and Jeff Sanders for the opportunity,” Romo said in a telephone interview. “It’s an honor to get that invitation and to be able to play with some of the best players in the world.
“Going to Napa is going to be a great week. What a great venue.”
Romo, a four-time Pro Bowl selection who played 14 seasons with the Cowboys, is an amateur golfer and won the American Century Championship, a celebrity tournament, for the second straight year on Sunday. Romo fired a 2-over-par 74 in the closing round at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course at Stateline, Nevada, and finished with 71 points in the Modified Stableford scoring format.
The $125,000 first-place prize was donated to Stowers Institute for Medical Research, a tournament charity, according to an Associated Press story.
The Safeway Open, presented by Chevron and televised by Golf Channel, will have a $6.6 million purse and will again include World Golf Hall of Fame member and 44-time PGA Tour winner Phil Mickelson.
Kevin Tway won last year’s tournament in a playoff. Tway beat Ryan Moore on the par-4, 10th hole – the third hole of the playoff – with a birdie putt from 10 feet.
It was Tway’s first PGA Tour win. He went birdie, birdie, birdie in the playoff. He is the son of Bob Tway, an eight-time winner on Tour. Bob Tway won the PGA Championship in 1986.
Tway made a late charge, making birdies on his final five holes, including the playoff holes. He and his dad became the 10th father-son duo to win on the PGA Tour.
Tway received $1,152,000 and also 500 FedExCup points.
Romo will be making his fourth appearance in a PGA Tour event when he plays in the Safeway Open.
He accepted a sponsor’s exemption and missed the cut in May at the AT&T Byron Nelson after rounds of 76 and 74 at Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas.
He played on sponsor’s invitations at the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship, which is held at Corales Golf Club at Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic. Romo missed the cut in March following rounds of 79 and 80. He also missed the cut at the 2018 tournament after shooting rounds of 77 and 82.
“Tony Romo is going to be a great addition to our tournament this year,” said Sanders, president of golf events for Lagardere Sports, the event’s management company. “He’s a great athlete, he works hard at his game, and he’s getting better. He played great (at Edgewood Tahoe). That was amazing how good he played.
“Our tournament is known for being an entertainment event, as well as a PGA Tour event. The addition of Tony Romo falls in line with our model, which is to entertain our fans with food, wine, music and golf. Let’s use our sponsor invitation to entertain the fans. That’s our job. That’s what we want to do.
I’m excited to have Tony Romo in the field at the Safeway Open. He’s really looking forward to it. He said his game is really taking shape at the right time, which is nice to hear. It’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be fun to have him. Our fans are going to enjoy watching Tony play.”
Romo played for the Cowboys from 2003-2016, starting out his career as an undrafted free agent, and was a Pro Bowl selection in 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2014. He had 34,183 career passing yards with 248 touchdowns, a 65.3 completion percentage and a 97.1 passer rating.
Romo directed the Cowboys to four appearances in the postseason. He retired following the 2016 season.
He threw 34 touchdown passes during the 2014 season, 31 TD passes in 2013, 28 TD passes in 2012, 31 TD passes in 2011, 26 TD passes in 2009 and 26 TD passes in 2008.
Romo did not advance out of a U.S. Open local qualifying in May at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas, shooting a 3-over-par 74. He missed the cut by four shots.
“It’s a great challenge. It is a challenging game, but also a game that you really can improve in quickly, if you have the right fundamentals, the right teaching,” Romo said. “I think if you’re working on the correct stuff, you really just attack it.
“Like anything in life, if you really want to get good at something, you’ve got to make it almost systematic, routine-oriented, and then really figure out doing it at a very high level. And then you’ve got to go attack that.
“I had a lot of flaws that I had to really start over on. And being a year and a half in, most things are starting to really show improvement. Like last week, I was really able to hit the ball and have the command. I hadn’t had that really at any point in my life. So that’s encouraging.”
Romo led from start to finish at the American Century Championship, accumulating 20 points in the final round and finishing 10 points in front of Mark Mulder.
“I think you’re going to see Tony Romo get a lot better at this game because he’s got time to play and practice,” said Sanders. “We know he’s a great athlete and we know he works hard. He’s a great player already. And all he’s going do is get better. If he plays his game, he can make the cut.”
Romo said he has improved his game from his three previous PGA Tour starts and wants to be consistent enough to put shots together. He got out to a solid start in the final round last week, making birdies on five of his first 11 holes.
“I just think with the improvement I’ve already made, I think I’ll have the same improvement hopefully, at the Safeway. I do know I’m improving and it’s going to be fun to go out there and try to shoot some great scores,” Romo said.
Romo said it was a year and a half ago when he decided to commit to making golf a daily routine in his life. He works with Chris O’Connell, a Golf Channel Academy lead coach, and Andy Traynor, an instructor in Dallas.
“I have started to really understand some of the concepts and it’s starting to come together for me,” said Romo. “I think one of the great joys I get is to attack a weakness and try to make it a strength. We made headway in a lot of those areas and it’s starting to turn into things I really trust.”
Fourth year of Safeway Open
The Safeway Open, now in its fourth year, is part of the FedExCup schedule. Safeway is the title sponsor. The five-year agreement runs through 2020 with the PGA Tour event remaining at Silverado for the duration.
The Safeway Open is part of the PGA Tour’s 46-tournament schedule for 2018-19 that concludes with three FedExCup Playoff events. The PGA Tour’s wraparound schedule bridges two years.
For the 2019-2020 season, the Safeway Open will follow A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia (Sept. 9-15) and the Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Mississippi (Sept. 16-22).
The entertainment model that Sanders has put together for the Safeway Open also features food, wine and music.
“It works. It works in Napa, because Napa is one of the very best destinations in the world,” said Sanders. “We’ve got great wine, we’ve got great golf, we’ve got great food, and we’ve got great music. So from my perspective, there’s no better venue in the world to have to lay our model down, our entertainment golf festival model than Napa and Silverado. We’re excited about what’s coming up.”
The tournament attendance for the week last year was 82,500, event officials said. Saturday’s third-round attendance was announced at 25,000. Sunday’s final-round attendance was 20,000.
“I just really feel we have momentum going,” said Sanders. “I’m really excited about our product. I think we’re going to have a big turnout, lots of great players and a great week.”
Matt McEvoy, the tournament director, said, “We’re preparing for the strongest player field that we’ve ever had here.”
The field will consist of 144 players.
“They’re not just coming to the Safeway Open to tee it up. They’re coming to the Napa Valley and to enjoy everything that Silverado Resort has to offer, everything the Napa Valley has to offer,” McEvoy said during a recent VIP sponsor appreciation event at Silverado. “All signs point upward for us. It’s going to be a really exciting year.”
Brad Street, president of the Northern California Division for Safeway, said, “When you look at the event, you look at the music, you look at the venue … it does not get better than Napa.
“The September dates work really well for us at Safeway.”
To purchase tickets, or for more information, go to safewayopen.com.