Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry will trade the basketball hardwood for the links of TPC Stonebrae when he tees it up on a sponsor’s exemption at the Web.com Tour’s Ellie Mae Classic beginning Thursday.
And while oddsmakers believe the chance of him winning there are about as good as the Warriors not winning a game next season, Curry said Tuesday he’s enjoying the moment regardless.
“Golf has been a passion of mine since I was a kid,” he told ESPN’s Michael Collins. “Not in a million years did I think I’d be on this range with these professional golfers, trying to keep up with them. But I got an amazing opportunity this week, so we’ll see what happens.”
Curry will tee off at 11:55 a.m. ET on Thursday. He will be paired alongside Sam Ryder and defending champion Stephan Jaeger in each of the first two rounds, with the trio set to tee off in Friday’s second round at 5:15 p.m. ET.
Curry, a 2-handicap who will maintain his amateur status, was granted the sponsor’s exemption in June to the event in Northern California. While he finished an impressive fourth in the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe last month, that was a pro-am.
The odds of faring that well in his first professional event are much more staggering. In fact, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook opened him as a 3,000-1 long shot to take home the title.
Curry told ESPN on Tuesday that winning isn’t even in his mind.
“I’m staying realistic,” he told Collins. “First goal is just to get off the first tee on Thursday. If I can do that, I’ll be off and running.
“These guys dedicate their life to the game and are grinding every week to make it to the PGA Tour, so I understand how hard it is out here. Myself as a casual professional golfer in my head, not in real life, I just want to have fun, make some birdies. The cut would be — if I can just give myself a chance, like go into Friday with a realistic chance to make it — that would be amazing. I want to know what that adrenaline rush is like, because for me, that would be like winning the tourney.”
Curry spent Tuesday practicing at TPC Stonebrae and came away awed at the preparation his fellow Web.com Tour players put into such an event.
Asked what surprised him the most, Curry said, “The practice round, just how much is going on. Just watching them survey the course, get a game plan, hitting putts all over the green.
“I got to the 16th hole, and I was exhausted. Just mentally thinking about all the different scenarios that can play out there in a round. New respect for that part of the process.”
Curry will join a list of athletes to compete in PGA Tour-sanctioned events during their active playing careers that also includes former NFL players Jerry Rice and Mark Rypien.