STATELINE, Nev. — Tony Romo entered the final round of the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament with a commanding nine-point lead.
The former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and defending tournament champion didn’t let up as Sunday’s final round got underway at Edgewood Tahoe, shooting 3-under-par through the first four holes to push his lead into double digits before coasting into the clubhouse with one of the largest margins of victory in tournament history.
“When I first stepped out there, it was to set the scoring record for the golf tournament,” said Romo. “Instead of protecting — I’ve been in that position before — instead of protecting, you want to be chasing something.”
Romo missed a short putt for birdie to open the round, but then birdied the next three holes.
Romo added birdies on holes nine and 11. He then had to take a drop on 12, before hitting into the bunker on the way to a double bogey. By then, however, there was little chance the field of players could catch the four-time Pro Bowl quarterback during a warm, blustery day on Lake Tahoe’s South Shore.
“I knew it was going to be tough for guys to get a lot of birdies on that back nine,” said Romo. “I feel like the birdie on nine and the birdie on 11 … I knew we pretty much had it locked up at that point. From there, you enjoy the day and you try not to do anything silly, and just protect — probably a little too much coming in, but it was great day, got off to a good start and I played all well all week — good enough to give myself a chance to enjoy the back nine walk, I guess.”
By the time Romo reached the course’s signature par-3 17th hole, he was all smiles, playing catch with fans and signing souvenirs. He went on to bogey 17, and then sank his putt for par on the 18th hole for a tournament score of 71 (2-under-par) and a 10-point win. He shot 2-over-par Sunday. Romo donated his $125,000 purse back to tournament fund, which will be used for charity.
Romo’s margin of victory is fourth highest in tournament history. Mark Mulder and Mark Rypien each won by 11. Former quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver owns the record for largest margin of victory at 19 points, set in 2010 when Tolliver also broke the tournament record with 84 points.
Romo also joins Mark Mulder, Rick Rhoden, and Dan Quinn as the only back-to-back champions in the tournament’s 30-year history.
“It’s an honor to be in that club, and as you know, we love this golf tournament,” said Romo. “It’s a special week for me and my family.”
Former pitcher Mark Mulder, who three-peated as champion from 2015-2017, was runner-up with a score of 61.
Former tennis player Mardy Fish was third with 57 points. Former pitcher Derek Lowe was fourth with 57 points, and actor Jack Wagner was fifth with 55 points.
This year’s tournament drew more than 60,000 spectators during the week, according to officials.
“Unbelievable,” said Wagner. “At our players meeting the other night they showed footage of the first broadcast and then years after and now 2019 it is probably 60,000 attending now and a couple hundred boats out here so it is pretty unbelievable how this has grown.”
Fan favorites Steph and Dell Curry played Sunday’s round together. Steph Curry finished tied for seventh with 50 points, while his father scored 40 points, tying with former basketball player Ray Allen for 15th. The Currys traditionally place a wager during the tournament, and this year Steph took the win, and will force his father to sing a karaoke song during the 2020 tournament.
“Just trying to embarrass the other person as much as possible so, picking the song and venue is a good wager for sure,” said Steph Curry.
One of the more star-studded groupings of the day included receiver Larry Fitzgerald, quarterback Aaron Rodgers and singer Justin Timberlake.
“It gets your adrenaline going,” said Timberlake on playing in the tournament. “It feels like a major out here and it also feels like a rock concert. It is hard to describe. The energy has been great and everybody has been great.”
Timberlake finished in 38th place with 16 points.
“They have been going right and left. I have been playing a lot of Army golf today, just right, left, right, left,” said Timberlake on his round. “The wind has been the biggest factor today for sure. It kind of whips the greens up and they get a little bumpy as well so putting is really challenging as well, too.”
This year’s tournament featured a record purse of $600,000 and attracted more than 80 celebrities from sports and entertainment.
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at email@example.com.