Steph Curry

How Steph used big-game experience to focus on ACC title chase

NBC Universal, Inc.
  • Programming note: Fans can watch Steph Curry chase the American Century Championship title Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. PT, live on NBC Bay Area and Peacock.

Steph Curry was able to maintain his position atop the American Century Championship leaderboard Saturday in the celebrity golf tournament's second round, thanks largely in part to his familiarity with high-pressure moments on the Warriors.

The four-time NBA champion followed up Friday's first-round performance with a hole-in-one on the par-3 seventh at Edgewood Tahoe Resort the next day, but fell into a lull on the following holes and finished Saturday's round one shot over par.

Still, Curry's 23 points Saturday brought his total to a tournament-leading 50 points -- and he said his big-game experience in the NBA helped him overcome the lull after his electrifying ace. Given Curry's excitement about the hole-in-one and his ensuing sprint down the fairway, he felt "impressed" with his round overall.

"I'm actually glad I held it together for the most part," Curry told reporters after the second round. "In the middle of the round, I had a couple of bad shots. I had a bad break on the par-3, but to come back finish even last five holes, six holes, for me that's the most -- I guess I'm impressed with for the day after the hole-in-one, because it could have gone all over the place with where my excitement level was.”

As Curry chases his first ACC title Sunday, his countless NBA playoff wins with the Warriors have taught the 35-year-old how to perform with all eyes on him. Most recently, he put Golden State on his back with a historic Game 7 performance against the Sacramento Kings to conclude their first-round series in April.

Even though golf is a solo sport, Curry has been able to lean on that basketball experience.

"That's where I can tap into basketball for sure, just the mental toughness to acknowledge you had a bad stretch, bad shot," Curry said of his post-ace slump on the golf course. "That doesn't mean you can't course correct in that moment.

“So birdie on 14, which historically has been a tough hole for me for whatever reason, to birdie that one, right the ship a little bit. Missed a 4-footer on 17, which is the only other bogey than that. I was extremely proud of the ability to kind of bounce back knowing things didn't go my way for that five-hole stretch after the hole-in-one.

"My last hole-in-one, my first one, I tripled afterward. Like, literally the next hole. I'm getting better. Getting better.”

Curry is always looking to improve, which is why he has remained so consistent as one of the NBA's greatest players over the years. Now, he'll look to bring home another trophy for his collection on Sunday -- and his most recent trip to the postseason has prepared him for the big moment.

"I think just being in those situations where the stakes are high. You want something really bad, and you have to kind of sleep on the thoughts that you're having about what might happen the next day," Curry said. "Like, there's a little bit of similarity, but for the most part, when I wake up in the morning, come to the course, again, you have to kind of treat it like a normal round. I'm sure I'll have some kind of anxiousness and jitters just because you're kind of out of your comfort zone a little bit.

"But that's the beauty of this tournament for us amateurs and athletes from other sports trying to exceed in this sport. I think that's why people watch and love to see us out here grinding. I'm excited about it. Because anytime you come in here, you just want a chance to win. Your expectations change when you start to play well, but just to have an opportunity to be in the final group with a small lead, that's what I came here to do."

Curry will tee off Sunday at 9:51 a.m. along with retired tennis player Mardy Fish, who won the tournament in 2020, and former Sharks star Joe Pavelski, who lost last year's ACC to Tony Romo in a playoff. Both Fish and Pavelski are tied for the No. 2 spot on the leaderboard heading into Sunday.

With a three-point lead over Fish and Pavelski, Curry certainly will bring his best as he looks to accomplish something he has never done before.

"It would mean everything. I love the game. I've been coming here for -- I think this is No. 10 or 11, maybe -- and talked about from a basketball perspective," Curry told reporters. "I think Vinny [Del Negro] was the first one that got it done a couple years ago. Being an active athlete trying to excel out here in your offseason. All that stuff put into it. Super competitive, super passionate about the game. Look forward to this game every year.

"It would mean a lot, and just knowing that you have the ability to do it and see what happens.”

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