Can an NBA champ win at pro golf? Steph Curry’s a good bet
(CNN) — “I’m going to try and keep it in the fairway and play well.”
Those are modest words coming from an NBA two-time champion and most valuable player — especially one known for his brashness.
But Stephen Curry’s patented turnaround three-pointers won’t get him very far as an invitee at the Ellie Mae Classic golf tournament next month.
The event, part of the Web.Com Tour of second-tier professional golfers, tees off on July 31 in Hayward, California.
Curry — a near scratch golfer — was a two-way athlete in high-school, splitting time between the hardwood and the fairway. He began putting at age eight, and first took golf seriously after beating his father, former NBA pro Dell Curry, as a 13-year-old.
The 2015 and 2016 MVP is the top NBA golfer, according to a Golf Digest ranking of non-professional golfers, and the No. 14 ranked athlete overall.
In August, 2015, Curry famously played a round with former President Barack Obama in Martha’s Vineyard. Curry and his father paired up against Obama and former NBA marksman Ray Allen.
“We had a 12 o’clock tee time, so there was a lot of time to think about it,” Curry told Golf Digest. “I mean, this would be my only round of golf with President Barack Obama while he’s still in office.”
“When my dad and I got to the range, Ray Allen was there hitting balls. Pretty soon here comes a caravan of seven or eight Chevy Tahoes. That’s when I got real nervous.”
Recounting the loss, which boiled down to his turn on the 18th hole, Curry says he “definitely choked.”
“I have honors on the 18th tee,” he recalled. “I get up there and spray it 40 yards right, out-of-bounds. That was a choke job for sure. I ended up with an eight on the hole, and we lost the match.”
Curry, who had an equally inconsistent NBA finals in 2016, rebounded from both efforts with an stellar 2017 Finals performance, averaging nearly 27 points, eight rebounds and nine assists in a five-game blowout of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Though the 6-foot 3-inch “Baby-faced Assassin” will play in his first official tour-sanctioned event at TPC Stonebrae, his sponsored exemption will likely place him as the event’s most famous competitor.
The 29-year-old with a two handicap has played in a number of pro-ams in the past, even shooting a score of 70, for a two below par at Pebble Beach.
Last year, NFL Hall-of-Fame receiver Jerry Rice participated in the same tournament’s qualifier, but failed to make the cut with a score of 79.
The current money leader on the Web.Com tour is German Stephan Jeager — who has hauled in a relatively paltry $249,859 for the first six months of 2017.
This year Curry stands to earn over $47 million including endorsements, according to Forbes.