Golden State Warriors guard and NBA superstar Steph Curry is a scratch golfer. He carries a 0.0 USGA Handicap Index. He can break 70. He's an all-world athlete. But none of that would portend Curry beating 32 players in his Thursday first round at the Web.com Tour's 2018 Ellie Mae Classic.
Playing for the second year in a row in the Bay Area's event at TPC Stonebrae, Curry shot a 1-over 71. Curry sits tied for 107th place, and he's eight shots behind a trio of leaders: Adam Long, Seth Reeves and Samuel Del Val of Spain.
Curry didn't get off to a great start. Teeing off from No. 10, Curry made no birdies and three bogeys in his first nine holes. After making the turn and dropping a shot on the par-4 second hole, the two-time NBA MVP made a remarkable turnaround with three birdies in the last seven holes. Curry made 4 on the par-5 third, then made back-to-back 3s on the seventh and eighth holes. The highlight of the round came from the final birdie hole, when Curry nearly holed out his 150-yard approach shot from the fairway for an eagle.
— Web.com Tour (@WebDotComTour) August 9, 2018
“Awesome day,” Curry said. “I hit fairways, which for me has been the struggle the five nines I’ve played [on the Web.com Tour]. Hitting out of the rough all the time and scrambling puts a lot of stress on yourself. A couple putts went in and the shot on 17 (hole No. 8) was pretty cool. An inch away from dunking it. I don’t get many dunks so that was pretty cool.”
A year ago, Curry shot a pair of respectable 74s in missing the cut in his Web.com Tour debut. Now with a 71 in hand, Curry has an outside chance of making the cut. The Web.com Tour cuts down to the top 65 and ties after 36 holes, so Curry has work to do to get to the weekend. But he doesn't think he's incapable of getting on the Saturday tee sheet. After all, he handicapped himself four shots through 11 holes.
“I was still nervous, had the same jitters on the first tee [like last year]," he said. "This time it took me to hole eight or nine to get comfortable. You can’t simulate that pressure standing over eight, 10 foot putts. But once you get in a groove, great things happen.
“The turning point today was on two green, and I three putted and was four over. I could have gone in the trash can. To be able to reel myself back in was fun.”