Stephen Curry says playing in pro golf tournament is 'amazing experience'

(USA TODAY) -- Making his debut in a pro golf tournament, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry might not have been as good as he is as an NBA player, but as an amateur golfer, he was more than impressive.

Curry shot a 4-over-par 74 in the first round of the Ellie Mae Classic at TPC San Francisco Bay at Stonebrae, a Web.com Tour event.

He said that the hardest part was just getting it started — and he did hit a shot into the cup holder of a golf cart on his first shot — but then he settled down and played a solid round.

"It was an amazing experience," Curry told reporters after the round. "I've been looking forward to this ever since I found out and to finally hit my first shot in tournament play was a really, really nervous moment, but it was everything I hoped for. If you told me I was going to shoot 74 going into the first round, I would take that all day, every day.

"I'm happy with it. Obviously, as a competitor, you feel like you can always play better. So hopefully I can do that tomorrow."

Curry beat one of the pros in his group. Sam Ryder, who won the Pinnacle Bank Championship two weeks ago, shot a 75. Curry's other playing partner, Stephan Jaeger, shot 67. In the first round last year, Jaeger shot a 58 on his way to his first pro win.

"I was really impressed with his short game," Jaeger said. "He has really good touch around the greens. I think that's where most amateurs aren't as good as the pros. I tell you what, he was hitting really good chips. Yeah, you can see he doesn't play every day — we play every day. He beat his under in Vegas by three.

"Seventy-four is great."

Curry is a 2-handicap and received a sponsor’s invite for the tournament. He finished fourth in the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe in July, at the pro-am level.

He came into the tournament saying he was "realistic" about his chances, but was solid throughout the day.

"As soon as he said my name on the first tee, I could barely take my hands out of my pocket," Curry said. "I tried to take a deep breath, but still there wasn't anything I could do to get myself prepared for that moment. But after the third or fourth hole, it was golf as normal."

He started on the back nine and bogeyed three of his first five holes before getting a birdie on No. 15. He got pars on the next three holes, bogeyed No. 2 and birdied No. 3. His worst hole was a double-bogey on No. 5, but then he birdied the par-3 No. 6. He had a couple of pars before scoring a bogey on his final hole, No. 9.

After that first birdie, Curry pulled a Jordan Speith and pointed to his caddie to get the ball out of the cup.

Curry high-fived fans between holes and brought out a larger crowd than the tournament normally draws.

"We want to get used to those crowds," Jaeger said.

Curry could make the cut and said he'll check scores to see what he needs to shoot. "But I probably shouldn't have said that, it'll put extra pressure on me."

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