LOS ANGELES: NBA star Stephen Curry got off to a rocky start but then held his own Thursday in his professional golf debut, shooting a four-over 74 in the first round of the Web.com Tour’s Ellie Mae Classic.
The two-time NBA Most Valuable Player, who in June helped the Golden State Warriors to their second NBA title in three seasons, is playing the event on a sponsor’s exemption.
Curry stood 11 strokes back of the leader Nicholas Thompson but managed to make three birdies and several difficult shots on the challenging Stonebrae course in Hayward, California.
Curry got off to a inauspicious start as he began his round on the back nine. His drive at the 10th hole landed in the cupholder of a golf cart sitting left of the fairway and he scrambled to make bogey on the hole.
“My first shot on the tour was in the cup, not in the right cup,” Curry joked.
“That was probably a first on the tour. There was a golf cart just left of my target on hole number one. It went right in the cup holder. Not an ideal way to start, having to calling a rules official over, but I settled in after that.”
Curry finished with three birdies, five bogeys, one double bogey and nine pars. He hit eight of 18 fairways while needing 27 putts and posted a better score than eight players in the morning session.
“It was a day of firsts for everything,” Curry said. “First opportunity to play with these guys, first tee shot was crazy, first par I made trying to settle in and then obviously the first birdie was a really cool moment.”
Curry said he was nervous on the first tee and compared it to the pressure of a NBA contest.
“The feeling is the same,” he said. “The adrenaline rush is there but you have a whole lot more time to think about what is going on. The best guys out here are able to master those thoughts for five hours.
“Soon as he said my name on the first tee I could barely feel my hands I had to take a deep breath. After third or fourth hole, it was just golf like normal.”
Among the players Curry finished ahead of was two-time PGA Tour winner Frank Lickliter.
“If you told me I was going to shoot 74 on the first round I would take that all day every day,” he said.
Asked if he was going to make the weekend cut, Curry said, “I got the jitters out. Hopefully that will happen.”