NBA star Steph Curry trades three-pointers for par threes in pro golf debut
(CNN) — He’s been called the greatest shooter in NBA history, finding the basket with unerring accuracy from all over the court.
But Stephen Curry traded three-pointers for par threes on Thursday, making his professional golf debut at the Web.com Tour Ellie Mae Classic in California.
And the two-time NBA champion and MVP didn’t disappoint.
After receiving a message of support from 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus, the Golden State Warriors star finished the first round with a respectable four-over par 74.
Curry is currently tied for 142nd place in a field of 154, 11 shots off the pace set by first-round leader Nicholas Thompson who shot a seven under par round of 63.
“It was an amazing experience,” Curry told reporters, having been granted a sponsor exemption to compete. “To finally hit my first shot in tournament play was a really, really nervous moment, but it was everything I hoped for.”
“If you told me I was going to shoot 74 going into the first round I’d take that all day, every day. I’m pretty happy with it.”
Some professional golfers had criticized Curry’s inclusion at the expense of budding young players, with others taking to social media insisting there was “no chance” the basketball star could break 80.
As it happened, he finished one shot ahead of his playing partner Sam Ryder, a professional golfer who won his last event on the Web.com Tour by eight shots.
“He impressed me today for sure,” Ryder told reporters. “I didn’t really know what to expect … but he made an awesome par save on 18, a couple of things that showed a lot of grit, he hit some great drives, and his short game was awesome too.”
Curry also bettered American Frank Lickliter, 48, winner of two PGA Tour events.
After three bogeys in his first five holes, the point guard had to dig himself out of a considerable hole.
And yet, even though his opening tee shot went horribly awry, there was at least an amusing irony in where it landed: a golf cart cup holder.
“That’s probably a first on the tour,” smiled Curry, renowned for his accuracy from long range.