In the early afternoon of Friday’s first round of the American Century Championship, a buzz started to make its way around the course. Curry was leading the tournament. But it wasn’t Steph, it was the old man. He finished the day tied for sixth place with Carson Palmer with 20 points.
“I was able to play a lot of golf since about April. Been hitting it pretty good. I’m happy that I’m still hitting it well. At least early in the tournament,” said a pleased Dell Curry.
Turns out the annual bet about the loser jumping in the lake that he and the younger Curry have had is off the table this year, and they’ve been so busy no bet has been established.
“Yeah, his caddie’s pretty tough when it comes to negotiating that. We’ll have a tough conversation this afternoon. But it will all be fun.” Curry added.
Through 13 holes the elder Curry was blowing the doors off the kid. But Steph caught a little fire down the stretch, including an eagle on the par-five 18th hole worth six points. His round one total of 15 leaves him in a tie for 12th.
While the Currys figure out their wager, the defending champ is who they, and everyone else will spend the next two days trying to catch. Tony Romo blazed the back nine with five birdies to complete a second-half comeback reminiscent of his days under center for the Dallas Cowboys to cap a 26 point effort.
“I think I had two points after five holes. So from that point on I got pretty hot. And I actually hit it pretty good early. I just putted — I missed some little putts for birdie, and then just the pace of the greens a couple times,” Romo said.
Romo was asked about his comfort level with the lead as the defender. “It’s just so long, the tournament. There’s so many — people can come back tomorrow and someone can go really low and you’re not leading all of a sudden anymore. And you just know how fast it can shift. So you just put your head down and keep going to play.”
Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Derek Lowe sits in third place with 23 points. Lowe finished second to Mark Mulder in 2016 and entered the week as a 30-1 shot at the local sports book. He was asked if he bet on himself. “We did not. We talked about it. But I’ve never done that. But I’m trending down, if I was a stock,“ said Lowe. “Just a fun day. It was the best putting round I’ve had in a long time. I don’t think I had a 3-putt.”
Former Cy Young award winner John Smoltz, called the MLB All Star game in Cleveland for Fox television Tuesday, and spent most of Wednesday in an airport thanks to a missed connection. No matter, Smoltz sits in fourth place with 22 points heading into Saturday.
But no one was happier to be on the leaderboard than actor Jack Wagner after his opening round of 21 points. Waiting for the post-round interview to start, he broke into song during the mic check and proceeded to entertain the press for the next several minutes.
“I’m really grateful that my body’s in shape, that I can still hit the gym hard; that I don’t have any real big knee or back issues, which I think most of the guys here struggle with. This year I feel quite prepared and I’m a little bit confident. And I’m turning 60 in a few months. So I’m happy to still be amongst these young studs battling away,” a beaming Wagner said.
— Michael Smyth
Suprise: Chuck ups his game — birdie for Barkley
Charles Barkley had -12 points on the modified Stableford scoring system on Friday, good for 76th place. A perennial last-place finisher, he’s ahead of 15 golfers. His -12 points is his best Day 1 score. His previous high was -23 in 2008.
Barkley recorded a birdie on Hole 11 and followed it up with pars on Holes 5, 8 and 16. His round surprised Romo.
“Did he actually play all 18?” he laughed. “Did he hit somebody and they threw it in? That’s awesome. He said he was hitting it betteo. He hadn’t been hitting it good off the tee but he said everything else was going good.”
Notes: Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson is second with 24 points. He is the only active professional athlete in the Top 10. Peterson had six birdies, six pars and six bogies. … Vince Carter, 2000 NBA Dunk Contest winner, dunked two approach shots in the water on Hole 1. … A dive into Lake Tahoe is eliminated for the wager between Stephen Curry and his father Dell. “The lake is done,” Curry said. “But we’re trying to figure out what could replace it. There’s been some good ideas thrown out. Something around karaoke or a food challenge.” Steph eagled Hole 18 and finished with 15 points. … The basketball hoop on Hole 17 has been moved to regulation height at 10 feet, ending the slam dunk demonstrations. Steph tried, however.