Thursday, July 2, 2009
This is when I knew it was gonna be bad. We were on Congressional's 12th fairway, Tiger and Tony's third hole, when I saw a father and daughter in matching Romo jerseys perched around the green. That would be Joe Ramirez from Mechanicsburg, Pa., along with his 5-year old daughter, Dallas. Yeah, Dallas.
"Better than naming her Washington," he said.
And this, sports fans, is why you don't invite the Cowboys' quarterback to play with the tournament host in Bethesda, even if they are both friends with Hank Haney. Honestly, for a good part of the day, it felt like being at FedEx Field on a certain late fall Monday evening, with a certain black-and-gold fan base emerging from dark vans like cockroaches, the kind of cockroaches that wear those gloating little smirks and whisper bad things about your treasured civic institutions under their breath.
The numbers at yesterday's pro-am were exponentially smaller, but the Cowboys stuff was everywhere in that mob following Tiger and Tony. On fathers and sons and daughters, on old friends and new friends, on hats and shirts and jerseys and visors. It rankled the course's soul, made patrons' Gatorade Tiger Focus stick in their craws. It should be a mark that never leaves Tiger's résumé, no matter how many times he says he loves D.C.
"I got chills -- so close to greatness," one fan said, after a particularly nice approach shot. By the quarterback.
"People were nice," Romo said. "People inherently are good, I think, and it was a good reception out here. There's a lot more Cowboys fans than I thought, but even the Washington fans, it's just all in good fun, the way the day went. You know what to expect a little bit, but honestly, people were very respectful."
Sure, there was Phil Yonker from Rockville, wearing a "Dallas Sucks" T-shirt. "Why wouldn't you wear something to represent D.C.?" he asked. "Are you kidding me?"
And there were the more vocal ones, like Del Lynch, in an Art Monk hat, shouting out "Hit it like it's December!" from a few feet behind Romo on the seventh tee, and Chris Wellde from Ellicott City, letting rip a "Let's go, Redskins!" from the ninth. And when a starter on that seventh tee asked for a nice Washington Redskins welcome for the visiting quarterback, there was a chorus of boos, just like there was during the opening shot festivities an hour later.
"Oh, I heard them," said Romo's girlfriend, Jessica Simpson, when I asked whether she had met any Redskins fans. "I heard them."
But still, everywhere you looked, that dang star.
"Tiger and Tony together, you can't beat it," said Chauncey Strong, 39, of Alexandria. "To have the quarterback of the Cowboys with Tiger, my God. You can't beat it at all."
"America's team," noted Brett Zenewicz, wearing his "Romo wuz not built in a day" shirt.
As for what happened on the course, Romo -- playing from the back tees -- got two strokes from Woods, used them up by the turn, and wound up on the wrong side of their match.
"I had the pleasure of playing Tony Romo today," Woods later noted. "Added to my spending fund, which was nice."