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Golf

Tiger Woods Shoots an Opening-Round 68 at AT&T

You’d figure Tony Romo would be use to being an afterthought by now after dating starlets like Jessica Simpson (pre-fat) and Carrie Underwood. However, even when Romo was dating Simpson and Underwood, he always could take solace that in the world of sports he’d rarely have to play second fiddle. However, Thursday happened to be one of those “rarely’s” when Romo teed off at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. That’s because the world’s most famous golfer and arguably it’s most famous athlete flanked the Cowboys quarterback.

He no longer owns the moniker of the best-golfer on the planet, but Tiger Woods still commands the attention and respect of the best when he walks the course, and a victory at Chevron at the end of last season followed by a strong showing in Abu Dhabi has given Woods loads of momentum heading into the 2012 PGA Tour season. In his first event of the season, Woods was partnered with the often-belittled Romo as they took to Spyglass on a three-course tour of the Monterey Peninsula culminating at Pebble Beach on Sunday.

And while Romo is used to the scrutiny of a national audience, it was Woods that the world watched.

Tiger fired a four-under 68 at Par-72 Spyglass, widely considered the toughest of the three courses. And even though Woods is five strokes off the pace of leaders Danny Lee, Charlie Wi, and Dustin Johnson, Tiger was only bested by three players who opened their tournament on Spyglass, and Pebble Beach played historically easy on Thursday.

Nick Watney and Kevin Na both bested Woods’ 68 on “The Glass” with matching 66′s, and Bob Estes also carded a 67. As a team, Romo and Woods carded a 65 in best-ball action with Romo contributing three birdies and playing as a zero-handicap putting the team at six strokes off the pace.

Woods’ round got off to a quick start as he opened the day by ripping a wedge off the flagstick on his approach and tapping in for birdie on the Par 4 10th hole. On the Par 5 11th, Woods left an eagle putt just short and dead in the heart before tapping in another birdie. After bogeying 13 and knocking in a birdie at 17, Woods made the turn at two-under.

On the front nine (Woods’ back), Tiger followed a wayward second shot on the Par 5 and a difficult flop shot back down the slope by burying a 10-footer for birdie. Two holes later, Woods sank a difficult 25-foot putt for birdie on the Par 3, but immediately followed with a bogey on the fourth.

On the Par 5 seventh, Woods got a lucky break when he went for the green in two and narrowly avoided careening down the slope and back into the water. Woods would chip to 15 feet and sink his birdie putt to move himself to four-under, where he would finish his day.

For Woods, it was a solid day on a difficult golf course that could have been better. Woods was striping fairways (hitting 11 of 14 on the day) and he hit 15-of18 greens in regulation, but he often found himself in the 15-25 foot range for birdie after his approach.

To date, Tiger hasn’t completely turned the corner from a devastating two-year stretch that saw him drop to below 50 in the world rankings, but a more consistent swing has resulted from working with new coach Sean Foley. Woods looks like he has the game to get back into the winner’s circle before the year’s over, and he looks poised to contend for a major, but he hasn’t shown the killer instinct that made him a 14-time major WINNER.

As Woods and Romo try to put themselves into position to win the Pro-Am which concludes on Saturday, it will be interesting to see if Tiger both literally and figuratively dawns the red on Sunday. Tiger takes to Monterey Peninsula Country Club tomorrow morning, and another large crowd will be expected.

And once again, Tony Romo will play second fiddle. It’s like riding a bike, Tony.