There is a very short list of pro athletes who are skilled enough at golf to compete with professional golfers. And in theory, that’s how it should be. Pro golfers have committed their lives to golf and golf alone. It shouldn’t be easy for others to play at that elite level without a similar commitment.
The names of those athletes are pretty well known: Mark Mulder, Tony Romo, Jerry Rice and Stephen Curry. We’ve watched them earn sponsor exemptions here and there, try their hand through 36 guaranteed holes and see how their strokes stack up. The results of single tournaments have generally not been great, but with Curry there’s a catch — he has entertained the idea of a full-time playing career when his basketball career is complete.
Curry is currently a +0.1 handicap, and at his best was +1.5. That’s very good, but is it PGA Tour good? Or Korn Ferry Tour good? That was the subject of a discussion between Curry and Alan Shipnuck on the most recent Drop Zone Podcast. Curry’s four rounds on the Korn Ferry Tour have resulted in rounds of 74-74-71 and 86. That last round showed him a bit of the difference.
“When I played with Jordan [Spieth], the misses are here and mine are here,” Curry said, using his hands to show a difference between the two. “Even when I played in the old Web.com event — the Ellie Mae Classic — I think the biggest difference was…That fourth round I played, when I got out there, it was the third hole, I sprayed two tee shots right and they went out of bounds. At that point, my world just started spinning. I had so many swing thoughts, didn’t know where I was on the course.
“That level of being able to recalibrate pretty quick. I know they play a lot of events and sometimes they just don’t have it, but they can recalibrate like that [snaps] and turn a bad hole into a springboard for an amazing comeback or a great round. I did not have that talent. I had to be all dialied in or I was all the way out. Just that level of consistency is something I’m just in awe of.”
Curry’s first-round 71 featured a late rally with three birdies in his final seven holes. He had abnormally large crowds following him at the event. They were all there to see Curry, and that stage was a new one for his golf career.
“It felt like the NBA Finals, for sure,” Curry said. “The adrenaline rush. So anxious to get out there and play. But I am super confident out there on the court. I am iffy on the golf course.
“It’s just that level of precision you can expect, I didn’t know if I’d have it or not. On the court, I know when I’m dialed in I am tough to deal with. But on the course, it’s that little bit of indecision that I had to work with.”
Curry will no doubt have future sponsor exemptions at his disposal, and perhaps with more experience he’ll fare better. To hear more about Curry’s future in golf, his goals with the Howard University golf program, and what golf meant to the Warriors success, check out the Drop Zone Podcast below.