Stephen Curry Shoots 1 over at Ellie Mae Classic After Brilliant Back-9 Play

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistAugust 9, 2018

Golden State Warriors NBA basketball player Stephen Curry walks up the second fairway during the first round of the American Century Championship golf tournament at the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course in Stateline, Nev., Friday,  July 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Lance Iversen)
Lance Iversen/Associated Press

Stephen Curry may have a future on the links if he ever gets tired of winning championships and contending for MVPs on the hardwood.

The Golden State Warriors star held his own in the first round of the Ellie Mae Classic Web.com Tour competition at TPC Stonebrae Country Club in Hayward, California, on Thursday, shooting a one-over 71 after accepting a sponsor's invitation to participate.

He performed above that status when he caught fire on his back nine and shot three-under par in the final seven holes after a slow start.

It is the second straight year he has competed in the event, and Kevin Prise of PGATour.com noted he is attempting to become the first athlete from another sport to make the cut in a PGA Tour-sanctioned tournament.

The three-time NBA champion and two-time league MVP missed the cut last year by 11 strokes after shooting 74 in each of the first two rounds. He will need an impressive round Friday to move on, considering he was tied for 114th place after his outing, but he looked up to the task down the stretch.

Curry started on the back nine and shot three over by the turn, mixing in noteworthy approach shots and touch on longer putts that were befitting of an outside shooter but didn't quite turn heads:

Web.com Tour @WebDotComTour

Look at @StephenCurry30 spinning it back. 👀 https://t.co/iesvdxoHgL

Web.com Tour @WebDotComTour

"To shoot the three-ball, you've got to have good touch." 🏀 A great lag putt for @StephenCurry30 gives him another easy par. https://t.co/nbZOlIVwJK

One of his four bogeys in his first 11 holes came because of a three-putt on the par-five 15th, which was a costly mistake since golfers often make up strokes on par fives.

He must have learned his lesson, though, because he capitalized on the par-five third for his first birdie of the round and jump-started a hot streak.

He followed with three straight pars and then birdied Nos. 7 and 8, with the latter coming after he just missed an eagle from downtown. Perhaps it shouldn't have come as such a surprise Curry was doing some of his best work from far away from the goal given his reputation on the basketball court, but he had multiple PGA-worthy approaches on his back nine.

Web.com Tour @WebDotComTour

There it is! 🐦 @StephenCurry30 makes his first birdie of the day @EllieMaeClassic. https://t.co/T0h95gjILG

Web.com Tour @WebDotComTour

He's heating up. 🔥 @StephenCurry30 is pin-seeking at the @EllieMaeClassic. https://t.co/FLD7EBe9zc

Web.com Tour @WebDotComTour

Are you kidding me?! @StephenCurry30 is knocking down pins at the @EllieMaeClassic. 🔥 https://t.co/4NQEHqSHg2

Curry is well behind the leaders, who were at seven under at the end of his round, but winning the tournament was never his realistic objective. He had his eye on shaving those strokes that prevented him from playing into the weekend last year.

"I went back and thought, Where can I shave off those 11 shots this year?" Curry said, per Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle. "Stay away from double bogeys: I think I had two of those last year. I had a penalty shot on one of the par fives. Little things like that I think about as a true golf nut."

Curry avoided the double-bogeys and mixed in multiple birdies, but a formidable showing from the rest of the field has left his back against the wall.

Comebacks would be nothing new for the five-time All-Star, but he is more accustomed to making up deficits with barrages of three-pointers and timely cuts into the lane. Doing so with birdies on the golf course is a different story, and he will have to string together a few more to climb up a leaderboard with so many solid scores through the first round.


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