Sobel: Even at 10,000-1 Tony Romo Isn’t ‘Stealing’ Someone Else’s Spot

Sobel: Even at 10,000-1 Tony Romo Isn’t ‘Stealing’ Someone Else’s Spot article feature image

Orlando Ramirez, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Tony Romo

  • Tony Romo will play in the 2019 AT&T Byron Nelson Championship.
  • According to the Westgate SuperBook, Romo is 10,000-1 to win the tournament at Trinity Forest.
  • Jason Sobel explains that even though Romo is playing in the tournament, that doesn't mean he's stealing another golfer's spot.

After his win as a 300-1 longshot at the Wells Fargo Championship, Max Homa spoke about all the things first-time winners always speak about. He spoke about the need to believe in himself more, about the butterfly effect of some of his past performances, about the inner fortitude which kept him from ever giving up on a chance to pursue his dreams, even when it seemed most dire.

Sometimes golfers just need more opportunities in order to fulfill those dreams. The more “reps” as Tiger Woods calls ‘em, the more chances to hit the proverbial jackpot.

All of which serves as a nice segue into this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson, where quarterback-turned-broadcaster Tony Romo will make his third career PGA Tour start.

According to the Westgate SuperBook, Romo is 10,000-1 to win the tournament. Jeff Sherman, the VP of Risk Management at the Westgate, told the Action Network they have written 10 tickets on Romo as of Tuesday afternoon, including two for $100 each.

Unsurprisingly, there’s a whole “Tony Romo” betting market evolving.

Will Tony Romo make the cut?

  • Yes: +1800
  • No: -6600

How many shows will Tony Romo miss the cut by?

  • Over: 11.5
  • Under: 11.5

What will be Tony Romo’s lowest score in any round?

  • Over: 75
  • Under: 75

Will Tony Romo finish in last place?

  • Yes: -130
  • No +100

Yes, you’re reading that correctly. In a 156-player field that includes players in varying degrees of swing disarray or injuries or just plain apathy in the middle of a long season, Romo remains better than even-money to finish DFL on the leaderboard.

And it’s probably not a bad bet, either.

But I’m not going to break down all the potential wagering options on the former Dallas Cowboy. If you think he’s got some game, bet on him; if you think he can’t hang with the big boys at all, bet against him.

Instead, I’d like to address the elephant in the room – you know, the one who is currently arguing with all of the other elephants on social media.

As soon as I posted those props, I was instantly besieged with the same old tired takes about how Romo shouldn’t be playing this week, because he is “stealing” a spot from a more “deserving” player.

This opinion always strikes me as abject ignorance.

Let’s first address the “stealing” aspect. If I give you something – my new Scotty Cameron putter, one of those obscene poker chip ball markers, an old Pinnacle that I found in the woods – you have the option to accept this as a gift or turn it down. You aren’t “stealing” the Pinnacle from somebody else. It’s either yours or it’s not yours.

Same goes for Romo’s spot in the field. Just like every other title sponsor, AT&T has the option to offer an exemption to any golfer (with the proper handicap) into its field. Romo didn’t hack into company computers and take the exemption. It was given to him. No stealing necessary.

Now let’s talk about the “deserving” part. It’s pretty simple: If a player qualifies for a field, then he deserves to play in that tournament. And if he doesn’t qualify for that field, then he doesn’t deserve to play in it. If you get turned down by Harvard and a student with weaker test scores gets accepted, that doesn’t mean you deserved an acceptance. It means that, like so many others, you didn’t do enough to get in. And for what it’s worth, I only hear from fans who complain about this so-called injustice. I’ve never once heard a first alternate grumble about how he “deserved” to be in a field.

You might think it’s just a coy PR move to let Romo play in this week’s event – and you might not be wrong. This is business. Title sponsors pay a lot of money to put their names on tournaments and they should have the right to make a few decisions of their own. If an athlete or celebrity happens to bring more non-golf fans to an event and gets them engaged with what’s taking place, then it’s hard to argue against this decision.

I guarantee you’ll see plenty of spectators walking around in Cowboys jersey this week. For a game which so often preaches the need to grow from outside, this is a way to bring in potential new fans at a very low-risk price.

The truth is, I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often.

Instead of tournaments giving that last exemption to a Tour grad who’s only made seven starts this season, I’m surprised that spot doesn’t more often go to the scratch-handicap actor who lives nearby or the local athlete who thinks he can hang with the world’s best players.

They’re not “stealing” anything. Other professional golfers aren’t more “deserving.”

On the heels of Homa’s fairytale story, we can understand that players make their own luck, that opportunities will come and chances to live out dreams will happen.

They can easily coexist with the rare exemption to someone whose main pursuit isn’t professional golf. This doesn’t have to be a one-or-the-other situation.