Steph Curry’s vanity project is a kick in the teeth to journeymen golf pros | Ewasn Murray

Basketball stars appearance in the Ellie Mae Classic is borderline offensive to golfers combating in the tough world below the main tours

Imagine the scenario. Golden State Warriors are locked in a fierce play-off combat when Jordan Spieth inspired by two brothers basketball success and a capable player in his own right decides he wants to feature in match five. Spieths overtures are accepted, thereby handing the golfer a key place in another athletics top domain.

Ludicrous, right? It certainly should be but while the circumstances are not identical there is cause to wonder about the legitimacy of the web.com Tours dispensation as given to Steph Curry. The Ellie Mae Classic in California will feature Curry a basketball hotshot and Under Armour icon who plays off two after the Warriors player was handed a sponsors invitation. If it sounds like a vanity project and looks like a vanity project, it tends to be a vanity project.

Curry conveyed his pleasure at this chance. Under Armour, the clothing company intrinsically linked to golf via Spieth, is similarly cock-a-hoop. The positive reaction which greeted the move was based on Currys ability to raise the profile of the web.com Tour, which is essentially an entry-level division for the much more lucrative PGA Tour.

Im honoured to have the opportunity to play with the pros, Curry said. Not only to be able to compete against some of the best golfers in the world but to also help bring light to the tournaments charitable footprint of devoting back to the Warriors Community Foundation.

The charitable facet of this arrangement is worthy of praise but it objective there. One also presumes Curry has plenty of means by which he can assist said foundation.

Here is the rub: if golf needs athletes from elsewhere to boost its standing, if there is not enough within the game itself to promote at the different levels a basketball player can, there really is a problem. Golf should be accentuating its own blue-chip properties , not shipping them in from elsewhere. It also remains curious that sports people commonly regard golf as some kind of fallback career option, as if switching into this discipline alongside people who play for a living will be automatically simple.

These people tend to get a rude awakening. Johan van der Wath, a former South Africa cricketer, progressed to his home open this year and easily missed the cut. Ive had great times in my cricket career but at this stage golf is No1, he said. I always say cricket was my job and golf is my passion. Most cricketers would normally play a bit of golf socially but Im passionate about it.

Which is all well and good but the concept of waltzing between athletics is at best a strange one. Could Andy Murray revive his passion for football and start train with Manchester United?

Steph
Steph Curry, who recently won his second NBA championship with the Golden State Warriors, is a two-handicap golfer. Photograph: Eric Risberg/ AP

Tony Romo, the former NFL player, tried and failed to qualify for the recent US Open. Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Jerry Rice, Ivan Lendl and Andriy Shevchenko have received invitations to play professional golf and rapidly discovered scoring 68 in the company of friends is not the same as teeing it up in rivalry format. Being blunt, the position as afforded to these stars is borderline offensive to those trying to make their route in what is a ferociously tough world just below the main tours.

The exception was Babe Didrikson Zaharias, an American athlete who proceeded to swat away all before her in golf. Her 41 wins on the LPGA Tour indicates a level of golfing grandeur that would have come to the fore regardless of an earlier time in track and field. Currys handicap, although very good, scarcely sets him apart even from leading amateurs.

There is no suggestion Curry has a career swap in intellect. The dynamics of a sponsors invitation also entails he is not removing any other players place in the field. Nonetheless, surely the more valid move would be giving a chance to an emerging perhaps struggling player rather than a 29 -year-old multimillionaire who can snap his thumbs and have sponsors fawning. In many respects this is the opposite of the run model web.com Tour should represent. Shouldnt it be a platform for growth? So many great players could use that opportunity, said the world No489, Lee McCoy. Sad.

It is difficult to see what can be gained. If Curry scores high numbers, he will inevitably endure shame amid criticism of why he was there in the first place. Should the opposite transpire, the sense lies in the fact that golf is an easy surrounding. Plainly I want to play well and see how I manage tournament golf, Curry said. No expectations except keep the ball out of the gallery and not run Happy Gilmore.

This is not to say golf should shun celebrity. Pro-am events provide a regular backdrop to tournaments, thereby affording people from across the sporting spectrum to see golfers at work. Curry said after a round in the company of Justin Thomas and others in 2015: These guys are ridiculous. Their misses are good shots for me. Its just a different type of expectation. You find their ball flight and its something youre not used to.

Until golfers can start picking and choosing their appearances in other athletics, scenarios like Currys are better avoided.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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