STATELINE, Nev. — Tony Romo caught fire on the back nine Friday and jumped into the first round lead at the American Century Championship.
Romo, the defending champion, shot 5-under par on the back nine at Edgewood Tahoe and finished with 26 points, ahead of Patrick Peterson, 24, Derek Lowe, 23, and five points better than two-time champion Jack Wagner and John Smoltz.
Romo birdied three straight holes, 14, 15 and 16, had seven birdies overall and finished the round at 2-under par.
“I had two points after five holes, it was a nightmare start, but from that point on I got hot,” Romo said. “I hit it well early but didn’t putt well. It was just a matter of time if I could keep hitting balls within 10 feet. I shot 31 on the back and didn’t birdie 18. Hopefully we can go lower tomorrow.”
Romo played in the premier group of the day, paired with Stephen Curry and Justin Timberlake. The trio was followed by hundreds of people.
“It was really entertaining,” Romo said. “It was fun because Steph and J.T. are great guys and good golfers. It was a unique experience.”
Peterson was among the final golfers to finish the first round and poured in a birdie on the 18th hole to move into second place.
He made six birdies and six bogeys for an even-par round.
Lowe briefly grabbed the lead late in the first round, before Romo went on his tear.
Lowe made three birdies, just one bogey and also shot 2-under par, but the Stableford scoring system rewards eagles and birdies and Romo made more birdies than anyone else in the 93-player field.
Wagner is feeling good and is stoked to be among the leaders. The actor/singer broke into song upon entering the media room.
He made three birdies and three bogeys for even-par round.
“I feel fantastic, I shot 66 on Monday, my lowest number ever, and I’m hitting the ball really well for me,” Wagner said. “I’m grateful my body is in shape and really happy to be able to physically compete. It’s only the first day, I have to play well the next two days to have a chance. But I’m about to turn 60 and it’s nice to be competing with these young bucks.”
Peterson racked up five birdies, and also six bogeys and Smoltz, using a new putter that stands on its own when he walks away and lines it up, had three birdies, including a crowd pleaser at the 17th hole. He finished at 1-under.
Dell Curry posted 20 points, the initial low score of the first round. It looked like he might be the clubhouse leader before he was overtaken late in the day.
Three-time champ Mark Mulder finished with 19 points and Jeremy Roenick, Mardy Fish and Mike Modano are at 17 points.
Charles Barkley shot a 94, his best score in 15 years at the event and is ahead of 14 players with minus-12 points.
Note: Stableford scoring system —par equals one point, birdies are three points, eagles are six points, aces are eight points, bogeys are zero points and double bogeys are minus-2 points.