Romo one step closer to Nelson

McKINNEY, Texas -- On a clear but windy day, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was relaxed.

The only thing he was worried about was scoring low enough to advance in a pre-qualifying event for the HP Byron Nelson Championship, not trying to avoid linebackers and defensive linemen.

Romo shot par 72 on Tuesday to finish in a 12-way tie for 20th place to advance from the pre-qualifying event for next week's PGA Tour event in Irving, Texas.

To play in the Nelson, Romo must finish among the top four golfers Monday in the open qualifying round at the Stonebridge Ranch Country Club's Hill Course, the same course he played Tuesday.

Romo birdied three holes and bogeyed three more, but he parred the final six holes to stay alive. The top 23 plus ties advanced.

"It's a good start," Romo said. "Got to go a little low next week, but if we hit it well enough then we'll have a chance and if we can make some of the putts we had today."

One of Romo's best shots of the day came on the par-5 No. 16, where after sending his tee shot into a pond, he placed his next shot against a small hill to the right of the green. Romo's shot off the hill came within eight feet of the cup, where he made par.

Last year, Romo failed to qualify for the Nelson when he shot a 79 on the Dye Course, and he was done in by a triple-bogey on No. 16.

This go-round, despite the wind, Romo was able to save himself from any major problems.

Now, he has another issue. The open qualifying is set for Monday, the same day the Cowboys start their organized team activities at Valley Ranch.

Romo said he will bypass the open qualifying for football practice, but when there was a potential conflict in years past he's been given a tee time, normally late in the afternoon, that wouldn't conflict with him playing football.

"If the tee time doesn't work out I just can't play," he said. "At the end of the day, it's football, that's what I do. Golf is enjoyable and fun to compete and try to get better and be good at it."

There is another possible conflict regarding Romo. The same day the Nelson starts, May 20, Romo is scheduled to participate in a U.S. Open qualifying event.

What happens if Romo qualifies for the Nelson? Would he bypass it for the U.S.Open qualifier?

"I think we will probably stick with the Nelson," Romo said with a smile.

Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.