Stephen Curry overcomes slow start to card 4-over 74 in professional golf debut

The two-time MVP bogeyed three of his first five pits but finished strong for a 74 at the Tours Ellie Mae Classic

Stephen Curry pumped his right fist, created his arms in the air with club in hand and dedicated a firm shoulder bump to caddie Jonnie West, his golf partner on road journeys with the Golden State Warriors.

After three bogeys in five pits 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 ultimately feeling it and stimulating the tough shootings on the challenging course at TPC Stonebrae while competing in a tournament one step below the PGA Tour.

With a bogey on the last pit, he had a respectable 4-over 74.

It was an amazing experience, Ive been looking forward to this since I found out and to ultimately hit my first shoot in tournament play was a really, really nervous moment but it was everything I hoped for, Curry told. If you told me I was going to shoot 74 going into the first round Id take that all day, every day. Im pretty happy with it.

Curry described 300 -plus fans to the Tours Ellie Mae Classic, where Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice has played a few days 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 champ Stephan Jaeger. Both will be on the PGA Tour next season.

Curry, who munched on a breakfast sandwich at the green of his first pit, missed badly on his opening tee shot. The drive landed off a mound and ricochetted perfectly into the beaker holder of a golf cart.

Not quite as spot-on as those signature pregame tunnel shootings at Oracle Arena or the jaw-dropping, buzzer-beating three-pointers from way, route back.

Thats probably a first on the tour. There was a golf cart merely left of my target on pit No1 and it ran right in the beaker holder, Curry said. Not an ideal route to start with calling a rules official over after your first tee shooting. I kind of settled in after that.

On the 15 th fairway, Curry leaned on West, the states members of Golden States front office and son of Hall of Famer Jerry West. Jonnie West also is a member at this course.

Then Curry finished the par-5 15 th by sinking a 5-foot, downhill birdie putt. He stimulated par on No16 then survived a tee shot to the bunker and a near stumble climbing out of the sand on the par-4 18 th and made about an eight-footer to save par.

That prompted a triumphant club tap to his shoe and Curry then held up the ball sporting a big grin.

It was awesome, West said. He handled the nerves of this being his first time in this type of atmosphere pretty well.

Curry began his round on the back nine and when his name was announced on the tee, I could barely feel my hands, I had to try to take a deep breath, he said.

He attained the turn in 2 over.

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 made a couple more good shots and make a couple more putts, he said.

With so many cameras clicking, cheers and whistlings moments after he struck the ball and hundreds of supporters in No. 30 shirts and Warriors gear, this was no doubt a Strength In Numbers kind of day.

There would be no balls lost, either. Wherever his shoots landed, a big crowd rapidly gathered to get an up-close glimpse of one of basketballs best. One of the biggest bargains in the NBA before, Curry was rewarded last month with a $201 million, five-year contract.

Playing his other sporting passion, Curry got plenty of assistance along the 7,024 -yard, par-7 0 course. Those with homes along the course gathered in groups on decks to catch a hole.

On this day, it was Jaeger making a key assist down the stretch. Waiting at the tee box on their final hole, he took a basketball are subordinate to 14 -year-old Erik Oswald from Southern California for Curry to sign and delivered it back to the giddy teen garmented in a chefs hat who had followed his hoops hero all day.

Unbelievable gallery out here, Curry said, hopefully that continues through the week.

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