STATELINE, Nev. — Stephen Curry got off to a great start in his quest to win the 2023 American Century Championship, scoring 27 points to grab the lead after the first round Friday.
Joe Pavelski is in second with 23 points and Alex Killorn in third with 21. Defending champion Tony Romo is tied for 13th with 16 points.
Curry usually gets off to slower starts at Edgewood, so Friday was a nice surprise.
He began Friday’s round with two birdies and an eagle, three holes good for 10 points for the Golden State Warriors star.
“Whether it’s basketball, whether it’s getting into the tournament vibe or whatever it is … I knew if I could just get off to a good start, that I’d have a little bit more fun out there,” Curry said.
His 27 points are the second-most he has ever had at Edgewood. In stroke-play scoring, he shot a 69.
Curry said he’s trying to learn what he can from PGA Tour pros about playing with a lead early in a tournament.
“I know there’s a lot of golf left,” he said. “Not getting too ahead of myself. But it is nice to be in it, be with a lead and kind of settle in tomorrow and have some fun.”
Curry said he had a little extra time this spring to get some golf coaching, something he had never done before last year.
“All it is, is just kind of like how I approach basketball, you just put little blocks on top of each other and then eventually you find a pattern that you’re comfortable with, and then like two simple swing thoughts that you can go out into a tournament-type environment and trust that the ball is going to go where you want it to go,” Curry said.
Curry said he would try to relax Friday night and not think about golf.
“I’m not going to work on anything right now, just try to get rest, because you realize the more that you’re in contention, like I felt it the whole round today, there’s no breaks, like mentally. It’s a fun experience, but it’s exhausting,” he said.
Curry said he started playing golf at age 10 at a public course near his home in North Carolina called Charlotte Golf Links, which doesn’t exist anymore; the site is now a commercial development. He would play 36 holes every day after basketball season ended.
He said young athletes should develop their skills and work ethic and trust the right people will notice them.
“You kind of have to run your own race and believe that in due time all the work will pay off. What’s for you will be for you,” he said. “It’s a beautiful thing about sports, there’s a little something for everybody. And when you find out what that is, that’s when great things happen.”
Pavelski, trailing only Curry after Friday’s play, would not admit to being overly nervous, but said he was not feeling quite right to start the day.
“On the front, this course, it’s crazy in the sense on the first tee you could definitely feel the nerves at times. Not that I was nervous, but the arms didn’t kind of settle in,” Pavelski said. “It was just scraping it around at times out there. On the back, I started hitting my lines a little bit better as far as the swing.”
Marshall Faulk finished with 19 points on Friday. He said entertaining the crowd is part of the fun at Edgewood.
“When you mix the sporting world and the fans that are normally at baseball, basketball, hockey games, football games, you bring them on the golf course, that energy, it’s awesome,” Faulk said. “I think what American Century, NBC, Harrah’s, Caesars, what they do here with the entertainment aspect of it to not feel so stuffy, it’s awesome. It’s a great feel for us. We feed off the fans, the fans feed off us. And we just try to give them entertainment. Either make them laugh or make them clap.”
More notable scores
Dell Curry, Steph’s father, is tied for seventh with 18 points; Annika Sorenstam is tied for 17th with 14 points; Aaron Rodgers is tied for 20th with 13 points.
Three-time winner Mark Mulder is tied for 31st with 10 points.
Charles Barkley is in 79th place with minus-8 points.