HAYWARD, CALIFORNIA – Stephen Curry pumped his right fist, raised his arms in the air with club in hand and gave a firm shoulder bump to caddie Jonnie West, his golf partner on road trips with the Golden State Warriors.
After three bogeys in five holes of his professional golf debut, a birdie was worthy of celebration.
There was the animated, confident Steph that NBA fans know so well, the two-time league MVP finally feeling it and making the tough shots on the challenging course at TPC Stonebrae while competing in a tournament one step below the PGA Tour.
With a bogey on the last hole, he had a respectable 4-over 74.
“It was an amazing experience, I’ve been looking forward to this since I found out and to finally hit my first shot in tournament play was a really, really nervous moment but it was everything I hoped for,” Curry said. “If you told me I was going to shoot 74 going into the first round I’d take that all day, every day. I’m pretty happy with it.”
Curry drew 300-plus fans to the Web.com Tour’s Ellie Mae Classic, where Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice has played a few times in the past.
The star point guard of the champion Warriors high-fived fans between holes on the picturesque course providing panoramic views overlooking San Francisco Bay, and he chatted with the other two in his threesome, Sam Ryder and defending champion Stephan Jaeger. Both will be on the PGA Tour next season.
The top 65 and ties from the 156-player field will make the cut. Curry, playing on a sponsor exemption and one of three amateurs in the field, was outside the top 140 and five shots below the cut line as the first round was headed for a conclusion.
“I want to play better tomorrow. Now that I kind of got the jitters out hopefully that will happen and hit a couple more good shots and make a couple more putts,” he said.