Graeme McDowell heads a trio of Irishmen hoping to outgun and outside former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo in the PGA Tour’s Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship today.
The 2010 US Open champion is joined in the Dominican Republic for the $3 million opposite-field event by Seamus Power and sponsor's invitee Paul Dunne.
But all eyes will be on Romo (37) who has brought some attention to the opposite field event as the rest of the game’s stars play the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Texas.
"I'll be treating it very serious," scratch player Romo told PGA Tour.com. "My wife will tell you she hasn't seen me much over the last month.
"But if you know me at all I think you know if I care about something I'm going to commit to it 100 percent. So like I said, you'll get the best I've got this week."
Romo will find it tough to match basketball star Stephen Curry, who was criticised for taking up a sponsor’s exemption for the Ellie May Classic on the Web.com Tour last year but acquitted himself well
While the Golden State Warriors star shot a brace of four-over 74s to comfortably miss the cut, Jordan Spieth described his performance as “awesome" while Pádraig Harrington, who is practising in West Palm Beach this week, felt the publicity Curry brought the event was a major plus..
"First golf scoring I checked out today from all tournaments was @StephenCurry30 @WebDotComTour," Harrington said on Twitter at the time.
Romo's presence won't worry McDowell or the other nine major champions in action, including playing partner Davis Love.
After contending the Genesis Open in Los Angeles before fading on the final day, the Portrush native (38) played well again in the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week, finishing tied for 22nd behind an imperious Rory McIlroy at Bay Hill.
“The game continues to be trending in the right direction,” McDowell said last week. "I feel like mentally I'm starting to gear into where I need to be and it's just a case of really being patient."
His last PGA Tour win came in the low key OHL Classic at Mayakoba at the end of 2015 and he will be keen to continue on his upward curve this week.
It’s also a key week for Power, who has missed his last four cuts on the PGA Tour and lies 132nd in the FedEx Cup standings while Dunne also comes into the event searching for momentum.
The Greystones star will be looking for valuable world ranking and Ryder Cup points after following back-to-back missed cuts with a tie for 55th in the WGC-Mexico Championship.
Five Irish in Kenya
On the Challenge Tour, there are four Team Ireland Golf scheme grant recipients in the five-strong Irish party at the season-opening Barclays Kenya Open.
Ballymoney’s Michael Hoey (39) will be chasing his ninth tour win, and his fourth on the Challenge Tour in what is a €500,000 event at Muthaiga Golf Club in Nairobi. Live scores
But it's also a big week for Mount Juliet's Gavin Moynihan (23), who had no category on tour 12 months ago but is now seeking an injection of confidence after missing his first six cuts since winning his European Tour card last year.
Cormac Sharvin (25) and Ruaidhri McGee (27) will be hoping to improve on erratic 2017 seasons while for West Waterford's Gary Hurley (25), it's an early chance to see if the work he's been doing with swing coach David Dickmeiss is about to pay off.
"I haven't got a great category, but I will still get into a lot of the smaller events," said Hurley, who has been working with the Dane since last August.
“I am looking for more control and more consistency and it has really helped my wedge play too so I am really happy with what we are doing and just waiting patiently to take advantage of any opportunities that come my way."