Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry carded a 1-over-par 71 in the opening round of the Web.com Tour’s Ellie Mae Classic at TPC Stonebrae in Hayward, Calif., on Thursday.
Curry is tied for 106th in the 156-player field. Adam Long, Seth Reeves and Spaniard Samuel Del Val are tied for the lead at 7 under.
Curry made his Web.com Tour debut at last year’s edition of the Ellie Mae Classic. He shot 74 in each of his first two rounds then on his way to missing the cut at 8 over.
This year, Curry posted better results, overcoming three bogeys in starting on the back nine with three birdies on his last six holes. Curry also bogeyed the par-3 second.
“This time, it took me until hole No. 8 or 9 to really just get comfortable, especially on the greens. Again, you can’t simulate that pressure standing over 10-foot putts, 5-foot putts, knowing they count, and how many of them for me were for pars early,” said Curry. “That was a hard part to adjust to, but once you get in a groove, good things happen.”
Curry’s birdies came on 3, 7 and 8, with his best shot of the day coming No. 8, where a 9-iron from 148 yards landed 5 feet short of the hole after ricocheting off the pin.
“Yeah, there’s one of those off the face, hit it flush and it was on line. Then I hear [caddie Jonnie West] in the back whispering under his breath, like, ‘Be as good as you look,’ “ said Curry. “I see it hit — or I hear the pin rattle and that was a cool moment. I didn’t know how close it landed. When I walked up there, literally was an inch away from dunking it. Out here, I don’t get many dunks.”
Curry just missed finishing at even par when he failed to convert a putt from 5 feet out for birdie on the ninth to finish his round. Only two former professional athletes, MLB’s Ralph Terry and the NHL’s Grant Fuhr, have broken par in a round on the Tour.
“It was fun to be able to hit some decent shots early, and from there turn it into actual scoring, which was good,” Curry said.
Curry was part of a three-man group alongside Web.com Tour winners Martin Trainer (first-round 69) and Cameron Champ (68), who were impressed with his play.
“His game as a whole was really impressive. It really surprised me. Obviously, he’s not as sharp because I don’t think he plays as much as we do,” Trainer said. .”.. But he definitely has the talent and the touch, and I was very impressed several times today. He got off to a bad start and he came all the way back and ended up having a pretty good round.”
Said Champ, “It was definitely a good experience, obviously all the fans shouting his name and whatnot. Yeah, it was good just to see his game, too. I was very impressed.”
The trio will begin their second round at 2:26 p.m. local time on Friday.
—Field Level Media