Tony Romo’s critics always pointed to his performance late in games as a possible knock against him during his professional football career.

However, the opposite was the case during his opening round of the 49th Tanos Exploration II/Patterson-UTI Drilling Texas State Open at The Cascades Golf & Country Club.

Romo finished at 1-under par with a 69 on Tuesday.

The start wasn’t ideal for the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and current CBS analyst.

Romo’s group, which also included Mark Walker (2004 Texas State Open winner) and Casey Barbee, began on hole No. 10 at 8:24 a.m. Romo bogeyed the opening hole with five shots. After making par on holes 11 and 12, Romo double-bogeyed 13 to move to 3-over through four holes.

After a par on 14, Romo really turned things around. He birdied 15, and then he followed with another birdie on 16. A bogey on 17 put him back at 2-over.

On the 18th hole, Romo positioned himself for an eagle attempt. The shot missed, but he knocked in the next attempt to give him birdies on three of his final four holes on the back nine.

“That was the key stretch today,” Romo said. “I was 3-over through the first five holes. I was hitting the ball OK. I really hit one poor shot to start the round, and then I started hitting it good. When I got opportunities later, I putted well. I was missing early, and then I started making them.”

Romo made par on the first three holes of the front nine before birdying hole No. 4. He bogeyed No. 5 and then birdied No. 6. After pars on Nos. 7 and 8, Romo was greeted by an even bigger crowd than he had seen all day as they surrounded the green on hole No. 9.

A decent-sized gallery followed Romo throughout the day, but it doubled as he approached the final hole.

Romo gave the crowd something to cheer for as he birdied his final day to put him under par for the first round.

“It was wonderful having people from Tyler and everyone out here,” Romo said. “I wanted to give them a few putts to cheer for and was able to do that today. It just makes you feel good that they were out here supporting you in the heat. It was cool to see.”

Even people who don’t usually follow golf made time to see Romo play on Tuesday.

“It brought us out here,” said Yvette Leihgeber. “I think it’s good for the community and the Cascades. It’s pretty weather today, so we thought we would come watch.”

And while Romo is retired from playing football, fans still recognize him as quarterback of the Cowboys, as was evident by the numerous jerseys and Cowboys memorabilia people brought to have autographed.

One fan, wearing a Cowboys hat, held a sign that read “We (heart) Dak and Zeke, but we came for Romo 9.” Romo autographed that sign once his round was complete.

Romo said he has been pleased with his first trip to Tyler and his first competitive round at the Cascades.

“It played difficult in the morning,” Romo said. “With the heavy air, the ball wasn’t traveling quite as far. The wind picked up a little bit. It was a great test of golf. The greens are in great shape. There are a lot of long par 4s that you’ve got to get a good drive on. It was a good start. It’s been a great experience so far.”

Romo and his group will tee off at hole No. 1 at 1:24 p.m. Wednesday.

TWITTER: @BrandonOSports

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