HAYWARD, California (August 4, 2017) -- He was a long-shot to make the weekend, but Steph Curry can say his foray into the Web.com Tour was an unparalleled success.
Curry fired a second straight 4-over 74 Friday at the Ellie Mae Classic to conclude his week at the Web.com Tour event at 8 over in a tie for 148th. Overall, the NBA star beat four players who finished 36 holes (and seven in total with three golfers withdrawing) and missed the cut by 11 shots.
But this was an experience Curry thoroughly enjoyed.
“It was a dream come true, for sure,” Curry said. “It’s two days of golf I’ll remember for a long time.”
Truthfully, the numbers above don’t do Curry anything close to justice. Context is vital here.
Curry is of course a two-time NBA champion and MVP with the Golden State Warriors, but yeah he’s a full-time basketball player who had never truly played a professional competitive golf event before this week. It was his Web.com Tour debut, and his first start on any circuit recognized by the Official World Golf Ranking.
An athlete from another sport trying his hand in a professional golf event (whether it be Web.com or PGA Tour) is nothing new, but usually the effort will end in a last-place finish – often by a significant margin.
It seemed likely Curry would head down that path. He was listed around a 2 handicap when his controversial commitment was announced a little over a month ago and he admitted he had little preparation for the event (basketball obligations don’t go away in the offseason).
Prop bets confirmed the idea that there was little faith in Curry, as the over/under on his lowest round this week was 76.5 and the over/under on total birdies for the week was 2.5.
But Curry blew that all away.
The 29-year-old shocked nearly everyone Thursday at TPC Stonebrae in a beyond impressive opening three-birdie 74, shattering both those prop bets. Most gave him little chance to break 80, and that seemed justified after his opening tee shot of the tournament landed in golf-cart cup holder.
And yet, by day’s end he had beaten a multiple PGA Tour winner (Frank Lickliter II) as well as a playing opponent (Sam Ryder) who won on the Web.com Tour less than a month ago. He had also earned a great deal of admiration from pro golfers after that mesmerizing round.
Even better? He backed it all up Friday.
Curry started his second round with this fine par.
But then he struggled on the remainder of the front nine, posting four bogeys on his way to a 4-over 39. Yet, he made sure on the back nine that it would be another banner day.
Curry birdied the short par-4 14th with a beautiful up-and-down. It was his first birdie of the day.
A bogey at the par-3 16th followed, but Curry came right back with another birdie at the par-4 17th.
Now, he just needed a par at the last to actually shoot 73 – one lower than his emphatic Day One total! For the second straight day, though, Curry bogeyed his final hole.
This time, a 10-foot par putt slid by.
But yeah, Curry wasn’t complaining much afterward … especially considering he closed with an even-par 35.
“To shoot even par on the back, try to keep it together after a shaky, bogey-filled start was definitely a proud moment,” Curry said. “Everything was just an unbelievable experience, and to shoot two 74s, I’ll take that.”
Considering the 76.5 prop bet low, two straight 74s is beyond any reasonable expectation. Curry’s five birdies were double the over/under bet.
He tied or beat players that have combined for two PGA Tour, eight Web.com Tour and one Mackenzie Tour win. Ryder only beat him by three shots, and Aaron Wise, the 2016 NCAA Individual champion and a player with possible PGA Tour star talent, bested Curry by just two shots. Heck, let’s add on the fact that Jack Maguire, a former first-team All-American at Florida State, finished just a shot ahead of the NBA star.
Not that Curry was keeping track. Overall, he didn’t concede this was his max, but he was rightfully pleased.
“I wanted to maybe shoot a couple, few strokes less than I did, but for the most part, when you don’t really know what to expect going in, it’s hard to really set expectations,” Curry said. “After how yesterday went, I’m extremely proud of backing that up with another solid round.”
So maybe Curry never sniffed the cut and he finished his two days 21 shots behind leader Andrew Yun. But considering the dreadfully low expectations, a lack of preparation and his total inexperience in professional tournament golf, Curry should come to think of this performance as beyond remarkable.
After all, the whispers were that Curry would shoot in the 80s or 90s. Curry confirmed he certainly heard those talks before the tournament. That chatter matters no more, though, especially considering Curry pummeled it into oblivion with his play.
“A lot of people had their foot in their mouth a little bit,” Curry said, with a sly grin.
Curry has long been underestimated in basketball and now he has been in golf. Next time he sets out on a new adventure, it better be clear: Don’t you dare undervalue what Steph Curry can do.