AKRON, Ohio –? Steph Curry?should be applauded for what he did for golf the past few days, bringing considerable attention to a minor league tournament while at the same time showing just how good the professionals who play the game for a living are at their sport.
Curry was a long shot to make the cut at the Ellie Mae Classic, a Web.com Tour event that few outside of Northern California and the families of the participants would have known or cared about were it not for the participation of the NBA star/avid golfer.
That he showed considerably more skills than many thought he would was a bonus, and it is admirable that a worldwide sporting icon was willing to set himself up for abuse playing a game that can be humbling to the best in the world.
His opening-round 74 included three birdies, and while he is no threat to take anyone’s place in? LeBron James‘ hometown at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, several of those here were impressed. Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas were among those who took to social media to commend Curry for his opening-round effort, and many others were curious about how he was doing.
“I’m intrigued by that whole thing,” two-time major championship winner? Zach Johnson?said Friday before Curry shot his second consecutive 74 to miss the 36-hole cut. “Mildly to pretty impressed, actually. I’ve never seen him play. I don’t know that golf course. But it doesn’t matter — you have to put the ball in the hole. Four over? First round as an amateur in a professional tournament, that’s pretty good.”
None of this, of course, has halted the detractors who feel Curry should have been nowhere near a professional event where guys are playing for their livelihoods on the developmental tour, which is a steppingstone to the more glamorous and lucrative PGA Tour.
More than a few pros who have been on the outside looking in or clamoring for playing opportunities grumbled about the sponsor exemption Curry received back in June. They lamented the missed opportunity for some fledgling pro who would be banished to the sideline (in reality, a myth) while Curry — who makes millions playing professional basketball — got to fulfill a dream at their expense.
Then there were the golf purists who shuddered at the folly of a player from another sport taking a spot in a tournament. It’s not a pro-am or a charity event but a real golf tournament that offers world ranking points, prize money and the chance for players to advance their careers. This…