HAYWARD, Calif. (AP) – Stephen Curry rallied with three birdies to shoot a 1-over 71 on Thursday in the first round of the Web.com Tour’s Ellie Mae Classic.
Making his second appearance in the $600,000 event at TPC Stonebrae, the Golden State Warriors star rebounded from a bogey on the second hole with a birdie on the par-5 third. He added birdies on the par-4 seventh and eighth — hitting the flagstick on No. 8 — and closed with a par on No. 9.
Playing as an amateur, Curry was tied for 106th among the 154 finishers — eight shots behind leaders Adam Long, Seth Reeves and Samuel Del Val. Last year, Curry shot 74-74 to tie for 148th and miss the cut by 11 shots.
Playing alongside Web.com Tour winners Martin Trainer and Cameron Champ in the round that began on No. 10, Curry slightly pulled his iron off the tee into the first cut of rough, up against a sprinkler head.
“I can’t play this hole without getting a ruling,” he joked, referencing the opening tee shot last year that wound up in a drink cup inside a cart left of the hole.
He made par and parred the next two before stumbling with bogeys on Nos. 13, 15 and 16.
“This time, it took me until hole No. 8 or 9 to really just get comfortable, especially on the greens,” Curry said. “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. That was a hard part to adjust to, but once you get in a groove, good things happen.”
Curry made his fourth bogey at the par-3 second, then two-putted for birdie on the third. He celebrated with a lighthearted hug with caddie Jonnie West, a Warriors employee and TPC Stonebrae member.
“It took me six holes last year to get my first one and it took me 12 holes this year,” Curry said. “I had to wait a little bit. It was a nice relief to see a putt go in.”
He made a 10-foot birdie putt on the seventh, then hit a 9-iron from 148 yards on the eighth that ricocheted off the pin and settled 5 feet short of the hole to set up a birdie.
“Yeah, there’s one of those off the face, hit it flush and it was on line,” Curry said. “I see it hit — or I hear the pin rattle — and that was a cool moment. I didn’t know how close it landed. When I walked up there, literally was an inch away from dunking it. Out here I don’t get many dunks.”
He three-putted for par on the par-5 ninth.
“It was fun to be able to hit some decent shots early, and from there turn it into actual scoring, which was good,” Curry said.
Trainer shot 69, and Champ had a 68.
“It was impressive,” said Trainer, a two-time winner this year. “His game as a whole was really impressive. It really surprised me. Obviously, he’s not as sharp because I don’t think he plays as much as we do.”
Champ won the Utah Championship last month and leads the tour in driving distance.
“It was definitely a good experience,” Champ said. “Obviously, all the fans shouting his name and whatnot. It was good just to see his game, too. I was very impressed.
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