Stephen Curry surprised most fans today, and maybe even himself with a four over par 74 in the first round of the Ellie Mae Classic on the Web.com Tour. He drew a large number of fans wearing No. 30 Warriors jerseys in one of the largest galleries in Web.com Tour history.
“It was an amazing experience. It was everything I hoped for.”
Curry didn’t start with high expectations. When asked Tuesday what it would take for him to make the cut, Curry replied, “Probably the two best rounds of my life.”
It started in rather bizarre fashion with his tee shot on the first hole landing in a golf cart cup holder. Yes, he did get relief from that.
— Web.com Tour (@WebDotComTour) August 4, 2017
“That’s probably a first on tour,” Curry said. “Not an ideal way to start.”
The NBA all-star is used to making three-point shots with ease in front of thousands of fans, night after night, but professional golf is different. Added to this new kind of pressure, Curry was paired with defending champion Stephan Jaeger of Germany and Floridian Sam Ryder.
Jaeger shot an opening round and PGA Tour record of 58 in this event in 2016 and went on to win. Ryder is currently ranked No. 2 in Web.com Tour winnings, and Jaeger is ranked third. Both seem destined to get their PGA Tour cards next season. Curry wasn’t hidden in the field with unknown average players. He was in the group of the day, and the large gallery loved it.
“The feeling’s the same and the adrenaline rush is there, but you have a whole lot more time to think about what’s going on,” Curry said, comparing golf with basketball. “When he said my name on the first tee, that’s when I could barely feel my hands. I had to try to take a deep breath. It took me about four holes to settle in.”
Curry bogeyed the first hole (No. 10), then pared No.11 and No. 12.Two more bogeys on No.13 and No.14, but rebounded nicely with his first birdie of the day on par 5 fifteenth. Curry gave it a big fist pump and shoulder-bumping caddie Jonnie West.
Three more pars on the first nine holes for a two-over par 37.
Curry’s had his only double bogey of the round on No. 5, a par 4 and left him at four-over par. He rebounded though on No. 6 with a huge 25 foot birdie putt. He then imitated Jordan Spieth as seen below.
— Ron Kroichick (@ronkroichick) August 3, 2017
Curry pared No. 7 and just missed a birdie putt on No. 8 and went to his final hole three-over par for his round. The par five ninth hole gave Curry a chance to get back to two-over but he hit his tee shot way left, then hit his approach shot in a bunker. His third shot came up short of the green. His chipping and putting had saved him on several holes today, but on No. 9 he chipped up to four feet and missed his par putt for a bogey and a first round 74.
Even so, a 74 was impressive and certainly did not disappoint Curry.
“If you had told me I would shoot 74 the first day I would of took that all day everyday,” said Curry after his round.
PGA Tour pro’s were trying to keep up with Curry via social media with many congratulating him on a great debut.
Pumped for @StephenCurry30. It's one thing to play well with your buddies, but tournament play can be a different animal. +4 is no joke.
— Webb Simpson (@webbsimpson1) August 4, 2017
.@StephenCurry30 making 3 birdies and shooting +4 is super impressive. Great golfer but things can be tougher inside the ropes. Well done
— Ben Crane (@bencranegolf) August 3, 2017
I'll be the first to admit when I was wrong. I was WAY wrong on @StephenCurry30 this week. VERY impressive out there. Beat some good players
— Steve Wheatcroft (@wheatiePGA) August 3, 2017
Stephan Jaeger finished 3-under par. Curry beat his other partner Sam Ryder who shot a five-over 75.
To make the cut Friday will be tough, but Curry was thinking about it.
“I don’t want to get ahead of myself but it will take a very low round. I may find out tomorrow just how inexperienced I am.”
Curry has a 2:15 ET tee time for Friday afternoon.