A year after making his professional golf debut, Golden State Warriors All-Star Guard Stephen Curry is returning to the Web.com Tour to make his second appearance at the Ellie Mae Classic at TPC Stonebrae. Curry carded rounds of 74-74—148 (8-over) in 2017 and drew tournament-record crowds at host TPC Stonebrae. The 2018 National Basketball Association (NBA) Champion took time to speak with local and national media prior to the start of his practice round Tuesday to talk about last year’s experience and his expectations for this week.
STEWART MOORE: Stephen Curry, welcome back to the Ellie Mae Classic. Maybe just some opening comments on excitement to come and compete again.
STEPHEN CURRY: Yeah, definitely excited about the opportunity. Obviously everybody knows my love for golf, and to be able to play with the next greatest on the PGA TOUR and the Web.com Tour, it’s a true honor, something that I definitely appreciate and don’t take for granted. But to use this opportunity obviously to have fun, try to grow the game of golf, have a great tournament here supporting the Warriors Community Foundation, the players out here, so definitely excited about it. Again, obviously I don’t want to embarrass myself, but I’ve got some confidence this year and hopefully I can play better.
Q. Expectations? I mean, after last year, did you exceed them?
STEPHEN CURRY: I definitely exceeded expectations from last year. I think going into this year, obviously every round you play, every shot you hit’s a new shot, so you just want to again have confidence, enjoy the moment. But I definitely feel like I can use the experience last year and the few chances I get to play tournament golf to my advantage. We’ll see what happens. Just got to get off to a better start and not hit it into a cup holder of a golf cart on the third shot Thursday.
Q. How does this year feel different? And that confidence you said you have, is that from playing here last year or are you playing well lately?
STEPHEN CURRY: No, just I play in an event in Tahoe, the American Century, every year. That’s another type of tournament atmosphere, but it’s a little bit more laid back and fun. This is obviously guys’ livelihood is on the line. It’s true tournament golf at a professional level. I know watching the guys that I played with last year, Stephan Jäger and Sam Ryder, and this year, Martin Trainer and Cameron Champ, I’m not going to see a lot of bad shots at all, so I’ve got to keep up.
Q. I met up with Andre a month ago and he said he played with you sometime during the playoffs, maybe the finals, and he said you shot a 67 here.
STEPHEN CURRY: He shouldn’t be divulging all that information.
Q. Is it true, and two, do you have the game right now to shoot that in tournament conditions?
STEPHEN CURRY: I hope so. Every golfer hopes you can repeat your best round on whatever course you play or kind of repeat those swings when you’re in a groove. Obviously, you never know. So I’m going to use the next 48 hours to get right, get as many swings in as I can and come with high expectations on Thursday and see what happens.
Q. So is that confirmation of 67?
STEPHEN CURRY: I plead the Fifth.
Q. When you shot the 67, what was going right for you that day?
STEPHEN CURRY: So I would put the tee in the ground and hit the ball straight. It would land in like the shortest grass. You hit it straight again and hit it close to the pin. I had that flat stick working… But you have a groove. Kind of like when you’re shooting, obviously you don’t really think about much, you’re just shooting. Same thing out here, you don’t really think about much when you’re playing well, you’re just swinging and things happen. You have days like that, it’s always fun. That’s what keeps you coming back.
Q. You mentioned true tournament golf, what did you learn from last year’s experience here about true tournament golf? What is different about that than Tahoe or other rounds you’ve played?
STEPHEN CURRY: In Tahoe when I play, I’m one of the better guys out there, so it’s a different kind of confidence. Out here I know I’m well in over my head in terms of talent out here and the preparation. But there’s little nuances to ‑‑ I watch tournament golf, PGA Tour, Web.com golf on TV every week, but when you’re inside the ropes and you understand just how guys go through their rounds, how they process the information, how they snap back from bad shots, the bad holes, just their overall consistency, it just gave me obviously a deeper appreciation for the talent out here. I think just understanding what I need to do to get myself in the right frame of mind throughout the round just to ease my nerves, because that was the most nervous on that tee box over there on Thursday of last year, that was my most nervous thing I’ve ever been standing over a golf ball. So hopefully, I can use that to my advantage this year.
Q. There’s been ‑‑ I feel like this is a yearly thing we ask, but how’s it been seeing the Western conference, particularly the Lakers, how do you guys feel about that and kind of the moves that have happened over the summer?
STEPHEN CURRY: There’s been blockbuster moves and trades every year, or most years, I should say. Every team is trying to beat the champ. Nothing really surprising. You just kind of sit back and understand, survey the league, survey what’s going on, how we can get back on top this coming year and three‑peat. So there’s been some big names obviously with LeBron and other guys moving, so we know we need to control ‑‑ we control ‑‑ we’ll be a better team this year. We have a new addition as well, a couple new additions, so got to hit the ground running in September at training camp and understand as every year is, chasing a championship, it’s a different year and you can’t just carbon copy what you did last year to be successful.
Q. Is it strange to process, picture LeBron in a Lakers jersey?
STEPHEN CURRY: I think I’ve seen some photoshopped images. It is a little different, but on the court it will be the same guy that you expect to play well.
Q. What does it mean to you to be here supporting the Warriors Community Foundation?STEPHEN CURRY: It’s important. Obviously with the Bay area being my home and being here going on 10 years, the work that we’ve all tried to do to impact the community at large here and the fans that support us day in and day out. The Warriors Community Foundation has done a great job of doing that in terms of education and things like that. I know with the Ellie Mae Classic, their partnership has been a great journey and my involvement as of last year and seeing the guys that came out here yesterday as part of the Warriors Community Foundation team and all that, we’re trying to raise a lot of money and I think that’s a huge reason why this tournament’s successful.
Q. A different feel coming in here than last year, you have the chatter leading up, like should Stephen take someone else’s spot. You don’t have that this year. Do you feel like you kind of proved that last year because of your success that you belong here, you can hang?
STEPHEN CURRY: Yeah, I can hang. That’s a strong way ‑‑ I don’t necessarily know if ‑‑ I hope to prove that I can hang even stronger this year, but if I would have came out here and shot 100 or been dead last or whatever, it probably would have changed the dynamic. My whole goal again this year is just to have fun and continue to raise awareness for the game and support the Web.com guys as they pursue getting their cards on the PGA and this, you know, this great opportunity they have. And for me, just play well and have fun and try to do better than last year.
Q. You don’t have many years in your basketball career left, but after you’re done with your basketball, what do you think, what will golf be? Will you play a lot more?
STEPHEN CURRY: I’ll definitely play a lot more, but I won’t pursue anything professionally. I just want to be a part of the game and growing the game. It’s been something that I’ve enjoyed, it’s given me and my dad, my family a lot of great moments and memories. To continue to raise awareness over how fun this game is and how we can open doors to a lot of people that don’t necessarily know about the game right now, unlock some talent and try to continue to spread the game as far as it can go. That’s kind of what I want to do, and there’s a lot of different ways I can go about that and this is a good start.
Q. You’re good with LeBron. How do you feel about when he opened up a school and what he’s doing over in Akron?
STEPHEN CURRY: It was amazing to see. Every NBA player is trying to find a way to impact the city that they play in or where they’re from, the communities at large, at‑risk youth, whatever the case is. It’s very visible what guys are doing, and sometimes stuff happens behind the scenes and nobody knows about guys are doing it. I think that’s important to understand. LeBron was a huge gesture and a huge accomplishment in terms of opening up a public school that can serve his community. I can go down the list of guys that are doing something in their own ways and their own passions and things like that. So like I said, basketball’s been great for all of us, provided a way for us to provide for our families and create legacies in that sense and we all feel a responsibility to do our part to give back in any way that we can.
Q. You talked about playing better than last year. As well as you played last year, obviously two solid rounds, you still missed the cut by quite a bit. Do you even think about trying to make the cut?
STEPHEN CURRY: Oh, for sure. I went back and I know I missed the cut by 11 shots. I was like, all right, where could those 11 shots have come from, where could I shave them off this year. Stay away from doubles, I think I had two of those last year. I think I had a penalty shot on one of the par 5s. Little stuff like that as a true golf nut I think about. Whether I can execute it or not is another question, but I feel like I can shave off 11 shots. Who knows what the cut will be this year, but that’s my goal, try to execute the game plan, I guess you could say, of what I’ve come up with.
Q. What’s the biggest thing you learned after those first two rounds, that you learned last year?
STEPHEN CURRY: These guys are really good. I know that was a tagline back in the day, but they’re amazing talents. They grind every single week, every single day just to have a shot at winning tournaments and taking the next step up and making it to the PGA TOUR and then establish themself on the PGA TOUR and winning tournaments. So the difference between a good round and a bad round or a winning tournament or not is so thin, it could be one shot here, one putt there. So just appreciate how serious it is out here seeing what these guys go through.