Stephen Curry shot an incredible first-round 71 at the Ellie Mae Classic
Stephen Curry took the majority of fans with him around TPC Stonebrae on Thursday morning as he began the Ellie Mae Classic. It is the second consecutive year in which Curry has competed in the event, having struggled in last year’s championship. In 2017, Curry shot back to back rounds of 74 missing the cut by a distance. Playing alongside Martin Trainer and Cameron Champ, two of the top performers on the Web.com Tour this year, the NBA star set out determined to improve on his showing last year.
However, beginning his round on the back nine, it looked as if Curry was on his way to another disappointing round at TPC Stonebrae. The Golden State Warriors point guard only managed to hit two of his opening seven fairways on his front nine and found himself three-over par at the turn. A three-putt bogey on his eleventh hole of the day would hardly have improved his mood, but it was after this moment that the American was able to showcase his ability and mental resilience.
Curry began his comeback with birdies at the third and seventh holes (his 12th and 16th) to get back to two-over par for the day, before he stepped up to play his 17th hole of the day. It was on this hole that no doubt provided the highlight of the round, as Curry flushed an 8-iron from the middle of the fairway almost jarring his approach. Curry was able to make birdie on the hole which took him to one-over par with designs on birdieing his final hole, the par-5 ninth, and getting himself back to level par for the tournament.
Are you kidding me?! is knocking down pins at the . ????
— Web.com Tour (@WebDotComTour)
After producing two excellent shots on the par-5 ninth hole, Curry looked set to do just that. However, a three-putt par from the fringe on nine meant Curry would have to settle for a one-over par round of 71. It is a significant improvement on last years effort, and Curry now has a legitimate opportunity to make the weekend in Hayward, California. Curry currently sits T110 in the field and with the top-65 players and ties making the cut this week that leaves him just two shots off from being inside the cut line.
Speaking after the round, Curry commented on the time it took him to adjust to his surroundings at TPC Stonebrae.
”It took me until hole No. 8 or 9 to really just get comfortable, especially on the greens. Again, you can’t simulate that pressure standing over 10-foot putts, 5-foot putts, knowing they count, and how many of them for me were for pars early,” said Curry. “That was a hard part to adjust to, but once you get in a groove, good things happen.”
Once he did get in a groove, the three-time NBA champion, was able to showcase his skills on the greens where he gained almost two strokes on the field on day one. Curry will know he will need to continue to roll the ball well tomorrow afternoon when he goes out at 2.26pm PT.
Could Stephen Curry make the cut tomorrow afternoon? Austin Cook, who won on the Web.com Tour back in November, certainly talked up his chances when asked about the possibility, stating:
“Oh yeah, definitely. He could get on a heater and light up the putts like he does the three-pointers. You never know.”
His late tee time tomorrow will give Curry the advantage of knowing just what he needs to do to make the weekend down the stretch on Friday afternoon. Getting off to a quicker start than he had today will no doubt be at the forefront of his mind.