At Safeway Open, DeChambeau goes ahead, Romo goes home

© Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

Art Spander

NAPA, Calif — No, Tony Romo didn’t make the cut. He didn’t even come close. No, Adam Scott didn’t retain the lead he had the first round of the Safeway Open. He didn’t come close.

And now you understand why golfers, whether great or awful, never say they understand the game.

On the first day of the Safeway, Thursday, Romo, the quarterback turned announcer, was 2 under par and making us believe he might make the cut. Wrong.

The first day of the Safeway, Adam Scott took a one-shot lead, making us believe he might be heading for a win. Wrong.

This is what happened Friday at Silverado Country Club. Bryson DeChambeau, who began the round at 4 under par and three shots behind Scott, had an 8-under 64 and ended up six shots ahead of Scott — and at least two shots ahead of anybody else.

DeChambeau was at 12-under-par 132 and two shots in front of Nick Watney, who had a 66 for 134.

Justin Thomas, with his own 64 — Silverado is a country club, not Augusta National — was among five players tied for third place. Scott’s 73 for 138 left him in a tie for 14th. He made only one birdie.

Romo made three birdies and was even for the round after five holes. Then, although a plus 1.1 handicapper, he reminded us, if unintentionally, of the gap between amateurs and pros.

He had bogeys on six of eight holes from six through 13. He finished with a 78 after that 70 opener, 148, six above the cut line, and departed for Chicago, where he’ll comment for CBS TV on the Bears-Vikings game.

“Didn’t hit many fairways,” sighed Romo. “With the firmness of the greens, it’s just difficult (to get the ball close on chip shots) when you put yourself in some of the positions I was in. Started three-putting. There’s no question I’ve improved a lot. I think today I didn’t show it as much. I think was able to do it one day, which you need to start. Today I had a loose swing or two. I think I know why, but I got to go back.”

He meant for more work on his game. He’s also going back to the booth with Jim Nantz.

“We’ll have some fun,” said Romo.

The two tournament leaders both grew up in Northern California, DeChambeau in the Fresno suburb of Clovis (anyone remember Daryle Lamonica?) and Watney in Dixon, not far from Davis.

DeChambeau headed off to Dallas and Southern Methodist, wearing his Ben Hogan-style flat cap, while Watney didn’t stray too far, playing his college golf at Fresno State.

Noting Silverado is about 35-40 miles down Interstate 80 from Dixon, Watney said, and “This is as close as I get to home, so it’s nice to play well.”

Which, with only one bogey in 36 holes, Watney definitely has done.

And DeChambeau without a single bogey has done better.

Still, how he plays the remaining two rounds will be the key. Five times previously, he led a tournament after 36 holes. He didn’t win any of those five.

When others on Tour talk about DeChambeau, even though he’s been a winner, the subject becomes his laggardly pace. His reputation, in short, is built on great ball striking and agonizingly slow play.

His defense is that others also dawdle, but Brooks Koepka, who won back-to-back U.S. Opens and PGA Championships, confronted DeChambeau and there were angry words. Koepka’s not in the Safeway, and there were no complaints from those who were.

“Everybody can say what they want,” was DeChambeau’s point. “I’m not the slowest player by any means. It’s been a little difficult the past couple months, but, fresh start, new season.”

And a fine start, shooting 33-31.

“It was a great day out there,” said DeChambeau, referring to the weather as much as his golf.

“It’s always fun to come out and play to the potential you know you can. On putts, I was able to control my line. My wedge and iron play were pretty good, and they’re going to keep getting better.”