After finishing his practice round on Monday, Tony Romo greeted fans and posed for photos on his trek from hole No. 18 to the clubhouse.

The former Dallas Cowboys quarterback smiled, dimples showing, and proving his nice guy image as he walked around The Cascades Golf & Country Club course.

Then the CBS TV analyst tackled the questions about the sports he loves — football and golf — before the press and members of The Cascades.

Romo is playing in the 49th Tanos Exploration II/Patterson-UTI Drilling Texas State Open, which begins on Tuesday at The Cascades. Romo, an amateur, will tee off on hole No. 10 at 8:24 a.m. with 2004 champion Mark Walker of Frisco and Robert McMillan, who Romo has known since his high school days in Wisconsin.

This is Romo's third TSO as he played in 2004 and 2005 when it was held at White Bluff Resort in Whitney. Romo, who played for the Cowboys from 2003 throught 2016, will attempt to become the second amateur to win the event. Homero Blancas won the inaugural Texas State Open as an amateur in 1960 at Sharpstown Golf Club in Houston.

Romo is coming off defending his American Century Championship at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course near Lake Tahoe in Stateline, Nevada.

As far as the TSO, "I'm excited to compete against the some of the best players around," Romo said. "It will be a fun challenge."

He loves trying to improve his game each day and he gets to "come home to the kids and be a dad."

Romo is a big fan of Whitehouse's Patrick Mahomes, now quarterbacking the Kansas City Chiefs.

"He's probably your adopted son," Romo said. "The way I describe him is that he is one the best things to happen to the NFL in a long time and that's for multiple reasons. One, I think everyone can see his talent and his ability. It's rare, it really is special. But also him as person, the kid. Your adoptive son, you raised him the right way. He is a very genuine, nice kid.

"The world right now ... everything is perfect. He will go through some tough times and when he does, I think the foundation that was set here through his family and his community, he will fall back on more than he will realize right now when you go through tough times. You can always fall back on that, they can't take that from you."

Romo said fans should soak in everything about Mahomes.

"It will be a fun career to watch. He can do some amazing things, wowing people left and right," Romo said. "I think he will have highest of highs in success and he will have some tough moments like every quarterback who has played. He is fun watch to watch. He has a special gift."

TSO

The Texas State Open is a 72-hole stroke play event consisting of 156 professionals and amateurs competing for a $200,000 projected purse. The field will play 36 holes before being cut to the low 55 scores and ties. All four rounds will be contested at The Cascades from Tuesday through Friday.

There is no admission charge to attend the event. The Cascades is located at 4511 Briarwood Road in Tyler (75709). Fans may park near the All Saints Episcopal School’s Mewbourne Field, the second right after exiting Loop 323. Shuttles will be available.

Defending champion and PGA Professional Ben Kern, who had an historic run at the 2018 PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club near St. Louis, is back to compete. Kern, the pro from Georgetown Country Club, was the top club professional at the tournament. He won $33,281 at Bellerive.

He played so well that Kern set a PGA Championship record for club pros. He finished at 277, breaking by two shots the score Jimmy Wright shot in 1969 at NCR Country Club in Ohio. Wright finished fourth that year.

In the TSO last year, Kern won by two shots and collected $42,500.

Kern and last year’s top amateur Michael Salazar of El Paso, who now plays for Grand Canyon University, will tee off at 1:15 p.m Tuesday on No. 10, along with 2009 champion Mikel Martinson of Arlington.

Other past champions in the field include: Casey Devoll (2003), Nathan Tyler (2012), Chris Ward (2013), Anthony Broussard (2014), Dustin Morris (2015) and Brax McCarthy (2017).

Play begins on holes Nos. 1 and 10 at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday.

This year's sponsor exemptions were granted to U.S. Air Force Captain Kyle Westmoreland of Bloomfield, Colorado; Bobby Massa of Tyler; Stratton Nolen of Austin; Rick Maxey of Tyler, who was instrumental in returning the tourney to the Rose City, and amateurs Bryan Baker of Tyler and Romo of Dallas.

Romo is expected to tee off around 1 p.m. Wednesday in the second round. 

Following round two, the 36-hole cut will be the low 55 scores, plus ties.

Round three is set to begin at 7:30 a.m. Thursday with round four scheduled to start at 7:30 a.m. Friday.

Following the final round there will be an awards ceremony honoring the champion, low amateur and low PGA Professional at approximately 4 p.m. Friday.

In the event of a tie after 72 holes, there will be a sudden death hole-by-hole playoff.

Some 662 golfers attempted to qualify for the tourney at 22 sites.

Golf Car Information

There will be no spectator carts available for the event. Please note The Cascades has several holes that are located near the clubhouse, (holes 1, 3, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14 and 18) which are easily accessible by foot.  

Championship History

The Texas State Open has crowned many past and future stars over its 48-year history.

Past champions who have gone on to compete on the PGA Tour include Ben Crenshaw, Lee Trevino, Jeff Maggert, Blaine McCallister, Brad Lardon, Kris Cox, Kelly Grunewald, Cameron Beckman, Martin Piller and Shawn Stefani.

The 2005 Low Amateur, Jhonattan Vegas has also gone on to compete on the PGA Tour, winning two events during his rookie season in 2011.

Three-time Texas State Open champions include: Crenshaw (1975, '79 and '80), Jeff Maggert (1988, '90 and '94) and Kelly Grunewald (2002, '05 and '06). Trevino leads the list of those with two Texas State Open victories.

Last year’s Low Amateur runner-up and current Texas State Amateur champion Ryan Grider is in this year’s field as well.

TWITTER: @PhilHicksETFS

Sports Editor

I am a native Tylerite and I grew up reading the Tyler Morning Telegraph and The Tyler Courier-Times. My parents took both the morning and afternoon papers. I came to work here 35 years ago at the age of 23, right after college.

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