Tour Confidential: Was the Steph Curry Experiment a Success?

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Monday August 7th, 2017

1. Two-time NBA MVP Steph Curry made his highly anticipated pro golf debut at the Web.com's Ellie Mae Classic in the Bay Area last week. He shot a pair of 74s (eight over overall), missed the cut by 11 but still finished better than a few pros. We've already discussed in this space whether Curry belonged in the field, but now that the event is behind us—did his performance eclipse your expectations? And would you like to see Curry play more pro events in the future?

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: It was just great to see Steph Curry out there. His play was excellent, he has so much energy and brings out energy in others. There had to be people watching golf for the first time only because he was playing. I think he should be very, very selective about future invitations. Web.com is one thing—it needs all the attention it can get. The PGA Tour is another. But you have to think he's going to be around the game for decades to come, and it will do a lot for him, and vice-versa.

Jeff Ritter, digital development editor, GOLF.com (@Jeff_Ritter): Steph drew eyeballs, played well and had a blast. What's not to like? Too bad he has to continue that pesky basketball career that interferes with his golf game. I agree with MB that he should be selective with his professional appearances, but let's do this one again next year.

Sean Zak, associate editor, GOLF.com (@Sean_Zak): I aligned my expectations with that of Las Vegas, and Steph crushed those expectations. I not only want to see Steph tee it up again, as a gigantic hoops fan, I think I'm desperate for it. Two rounds were not enough! Plus, it made me think a little harder about those rumors he floated on Feherty, that he could see a golf career after hoops. Yes, please!

Josh Sens, contributing writer, GOLF Magazine (@JoshSens): I walked with him both days and more than his ball striking, what amazed me was his composure. A golfer with a much better swing could have shot a much higher score. I didn't expect him to break 80. I agree with Michael. He should be selective in his appearances. A little Curry goes a long way. But this was so much better than another hit and giggle celebrity pro-am, or a novelty act like Jerry Rice was in his Web.com debut a few years back. Too bad there aren't more like Curry: a true superstar in the heart of his prime who can hang inside the ropes at that level. Quick, someone get Lionel Messi a set of sawed off clubs.

Joe Passov, senior editor, GOLF Magazine (@joepassov): Curry definitely shattered my expectations. I had been beaten back by one too many pretenders, from Jerry Rice to old quarterback Mark Rypien. Giant golf clap to Curry. With his (basketball) Hall-of-Fame cred and his infectious personality, Steph brought golf some significant positive attention, much needed these days.

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated (@AlanShipnuck): It was great stuff, ruined only by the PGA Tour's myopia—how on earth did they not have any live coverage? What Steph did was so much fun and hope he tries again next year.

Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

2. Grow the game with Steph? You bet. The tournament handed out about 10 times as many media credentials as it did the year before, and social media was buzzing during and after his rounds. Yet none of the action was broadcast on TV or streamed online. Missed opportunity? [Editor's note: A Tour media contact said it wasn't originally scheduled to be broadcast and that there wasn't enough time to put one together after Curry entered.]

Bamberger: It wasn't on TV? I saw so many clips, and followed the rounds on GOLF.com, I felt like it was. Maybe the contractual issues get too complicated, but it would have been a great event to show on TV, and to show the talent that exists at golf's AAA level.

Ritter: Huge, huge miss. Gotta think the Tour won't make the same mistake next year if Steph returns.

Shipnuck: See above. And the PGA Tour has a small army of staffers in its digital content dept.—if they weren't going to televise it live, at least send some folks from Ponte Vedra, because unlike all of us hard-working reporters trying to service the fans the Tour staffers can post video in real-time.

Zak: I've been giving Golf Channel a break on this topic all week as there is only so much time in the day to broadcast live golf, and between the Women's British Open and the best male players in the world taking down Firestone, their hands were probably tied. Logistically, this is something they had weeks to prepare for, though, so I'll go short of calling it a "huge miss," like Ritter, but agree they'll do better next time. Like any great fight, the sequel will get twice the hype. I just hope it isn't a letdown.

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Sens: Given the way news and images spread these days — especially among the younger sector in which golf says it is so intent on growing the game — I'm not sure the absence of TV had a huge practical impact. If you wanted to see or read what Curry was up to, you could do so easily enough. But there was something ironic about the Tour cracking down on the reporters who were out there trying to transmit real-time feeds—you know, working to get word out about an event that should welcome every bit of attention it can get.

Passov: Right with you, Sean and Josh. Not only did Golf Channel have those two events, but also a Champions event and the Barracuda tournament. A bit of bad luck. That said, they (or the Tour) should be flexible enough to accommodate when a real story is going on. I remember way back in 1996 when reporters fled the second Presidents Cup in Virginia to head to the Quad Cities, where Tiger was in contention to win his first PGA Tour event. That was newsier. Gotta believe Curry made the Web.com event THE golf event of Thursday/Friday. It should have been covered live.

For the remainder of this week's Tour Confidential, click here.

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