http://www.madison.com/wsj/home/column/293976 About the time Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was making the turn in the first round of the Ray Fischer Amateur Championship Friday afternoon in Janesville, his mother, Joan Romo, and girlfriend, the singer/actress Jessica Simpson, were settling in for a Gritty Burger at Marsh Shapiro's Nitty Gritty restaurant in Madison. One might say that at 2:30 Friday afternoon in southern Wisconsin, the celebrity meter was registering near overload. Certainly that was the case at the Nitty Gritty, where a high school girls basketball team from Illinois, in town for a tournament at the Kohl Center, sat wide-eyed and motioning for the owner, Shapiro, to come over to their table. "Is it really her?" someone asked, presumably about Simpson, rather than Romo's mom. "It's her," Marsh said. Meanwhile, down at the Janesville Riverside golf course, Edgewood College golfer Aaron Gavin was wondering whether he should tell his playing partner, Romo, that he is a Cowboys fan. "I figured he might think I was just saying that because I was paired with him," Gavin was recalling Monday. Gavin played both the Friday and Saturday rounds with Romo. When a friend of Gavin's first spotted the pairings for the tournament, he called Gavin with the news. "You're lying to me," Aaron said. Then the official pairings arrived in the mail. "I just about fell on the floor," Gavin recalled. Romo, who is from Burlington, was in the state visiting his family and decided to play in the Ray Fischer, a prestigious, long-running tournament at Riverside, on learning his father, Ramiro Romo, was playing. Tony is a low-handicap amateur who tried unsuccessfully to qualify for this year's U.S. Open. He shot a three-under-par 69 Friday. "He can hit it really long, but he can play the other shots, too," Gavin said. "Plus he was nice, down to earth and talking a lot, especially to the kids who were following us." The word around Riverside was that Jessica Simpson, the pop star who is reinventing herself as a country music artist, was in the area with Romo, but she wasn't spotted at the course. The two have been dating since last year, and received abundant publicity (and some criticism) for taking a vacation in Mexico during a bye week for the Cowboys during the playoffs. Joan Romo, Tony's mother, and Susan Shapiro, Marsh's wife, are cousins. Friday noon -- "on the spur of the moment," according to Marsh -- Joan and Jessica Simpson drove up to Madison for lunch, hoping to visit Susan and Susan's sister, Evelyn Harris, who works at American TV. It turned out Susan was in New York City helping the Shapiros' daughter, Lauren, get settled. Lauren is starting a residency in radiation oncology at the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Marsh managed to reach Susan on the phone in New York, and she chatted with Joan. By that time, he'd seated the party -- four all told -- in a booth and word was circulating around the Nitty Gritty that Jessica Simpson was in the house. The girls basketball team from Batvia, Ill., had finished their lunch, but they lingered. Then they lingered some more. Finally a parent with the team took Shapiro aside and said, "Is there any chance we might get a photo with Jessica?" "I'll ask," Marsh said. Simpson had told Shapiro that she had been in seven cities in the past week, and she looked a little tired, but when he told her about the team from Batvia and their photo request, she smiled. "Absolutely, I will," Simpson said. Shapiro recalled: "She slid out of the booth and she was literally mobbed. She was signing their uniforms and everyone was either taking pictures with their cell phones or calling back to Illinois and screaming that they were having lunch in Madison, Wisconsin, with Jessica Simpson." Down in Janesville, Aaron Gavin, who will be a junior at Edgewood College in the fall, decided to tell Romo he was a big Cowboys fan. At first, the quarterback seemed dubious, but once they started talking football, Romo said, "I guess you a really are a Cowboys fan. You don't find too many up here." For Gavin, it was a great experience. "I didn't make the cut, but I wouldn't trade what happened for making the cut." Simpson, too, won new fans with her friendly demeanor at the Nitty Gritty. It's enough to make you root for them -- if not quite for the Cowboys. Simpson had mentioned at the restaurant that she was flying to California on Sunday on business, so perhaps it's not surprising that Romo withdrew from the Ray Fischer tournament at some point during Sunday 's scheduled 36 holes. Golf is great, but Jessica Simpson is Jessica Simpson.