As the Steph Curry debate rages, a closer look at how sponsor’s invites perform

June 30, 2017

NBA star and 2.2-handicap Steph Curry ignited a fiery debate earlier this week when he accepted a sponsor’s exemption into a tour event.

Should a multi-millionaire star basketball player earn the nod over pro golfers grinding to make a living? And, more important, is he wasting a spot that other journeymen could have used to launch their careers?

Um, not so much.

In fact, only 17% of unrestricted sponsor’s invites on the tour have made the cut over the past 18 months, and none have won, according to statistics provided by the tour. events in the U.S. typically dispense five sponsor’s exemptions. Two are restricted exemptions and one is a sponsor invite; those three players must be current tour members. Two other invites, like the one Curry received, are unrestricted sponsor’s exemptions. We looked at the results of players who received unrestricted sponsor’s exemptions for domestic events in 2016 and so far in 2017 and counted only domestic tour stops (international events offer more exemptions).

Through last week’s Lincoln Land Charity Championship, only five of 19 unrestricted sponsor’s exemptions have made the cut this season, and only one of those players, Wade Binfield at the BMW Charity Pro-Am, finished in the top 25.

Even a smaller percentage of unrestricted sponsor’s exemptions found success in 2016, with only four of 33 unrestricted invites making the cut, or 12%. That group also included just one top-25 finisher: Collin Morikawa, an amateur who tied for second at the Air Capital Classic.

So if Curry should miss the cut at the Ellie Mae Classic at TPC Stonebrae in Hayward, Calif., in August, he won’t be an outlier.

Far from it.