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Passing over putting: Romo picks Cowboys' OTAs, not PGA qualifier

  • By Associated Press
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IRVING, Texas -- Tony Romo took a pass on putting.

The Dallas Cowboys quarterback was on the field practicing Monday -- the first day of organized team activities -- instead of on the golf course trying to earn a spot in the PGA Tour's next tournament.

"There was really no decision there," Romo said. "For me, it was just this is what I love to do. Why would you not choose that?"

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Romo had a tee time Monday morning in open qualifying for the Byron Nelson Championship, which begins Thursday just down the road from the Cowboys' Valley Ranch practice facility. But the 18-hole round conflicted with the voluntary team workout.

"My coaches and teammates know that I would rather not do anything else than this right here," Romo said. "They know it because they see me all the time, and they know it because it really is the funnest thing that we get to do."

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he wasn't surprised that Romo chose football over golf.

"It's real obvious as far as where his responsibility is on him personally," Jones said.

Romo had his first chance to throw passes to wide receiver Dez Bryant, the team's first-round draft pick last month, in the first of four consecutive weeks of OTAs.

"There was one time when he was explaining a play to me, I really didn't care about the play. I was excited because he was talking to me," Bryant said of being on the field with Romo. "It is a dream come true. I always wanted to be a Dallas Cowboy. ... I'm trying to get past the excitement and just get ready and focus on football."

Wide receivers Patrick Crayton and Sam Hurd both received permission to seek a trade after Bryant was drafted. Hurd took part in Monday's workout that was open to reporters. Crayton didn't.

Hurd, who had thumb surgery in February, said he's "working as hard as he can" and can't predict what will happen. The Cowboys' spring workouts will culminate with a mandatory minicamp in mid-June, and the Cowboys' first training-camp practice is scheduled for July 24 in San Antonio.

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Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said he wouldn't have minded had Romo taken a crack at making the Byron Nelson field.

"All of us know Tony was here because football is first, and has been," Phillips said. "Tony has not missed anything since I've been here. ... It's not a surprise to me that he's not playing in a tournament that he had an opportunity. Really most guys with his stature and the way he's played, it probably wouldn't have hurt him certainly to miss a day here and have that opportunity. But it was up to him to do what he wanted to do, and he chose to be in practice."

Instead of possibly teeing off Thursday, Romo now likely will take part that day in a U.S. Open local qualifying event in Carrolton for a chance to advance to a sectional qualifier. There is no scheduled Cowboys workout to conflict with that round of golf.

Romo shot an even-par 72 at a pre-qualifier last week to get a spot in Monday's Byron Nelson qualifying. He also has tried to qualify for the U.S. Open in the past.

"It seems like he's playing golf better now than he ever has," said Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, Romo's best friend since they were rookies in 2003. "It's kind of humorous to us, you see a guy of his caliber and play the way he has over the last couple of years and still be questioned where his motives are. That's absurd because he's such a great quarterback and tremendously focused about where he wants to be."

Last season, Romo set franchise records for completions (347), attempts (550) and passing yards (4,483), and he had 26 touchdowns while leading the Cowboys to the NFC East title and their first playoff victory since 1996. His passing yards also were the most in the NFC.

Romo had no plans to play any golf after practice Monday. And no regrets about missing the 18-hole Byron Nelson qualifier.

"He made the right decision," Cowboys wide receiver Roy Williams said. "Golf is just a recreational sport that you can go do when you're 78 years old. ... If I was him too, I'd stick with this right now."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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