Stephen Curry: 2x NBA MVP, 2x All-NBA First-Team, 2x World Champion, the list goes on and on. Most recently, Curry will add ‘Player in the field’ of a Web.com event to his impressive resume. Most of you are wondering what the hell the Web.com tour is (understandably). The Web.com tour is called “the road to the PGA tour” because at the end of the season, the top 125 money earners earn their PGA tour card. As most extremely talented, dedicated and passionate athletes would want the chance to compete at the highest level, Curry is taking a spot away from one of those people that should be in the field. The whole reason for doing pro-am events and pro-am rounds before tournaments is to showcase these high class athletes that play in other sports such as the NFL, MLB and NHL. I’m not doubting Curry’s ability to golf, he’s around a scratch golfer which means he shoots around even par, he’s solid.
The USGA conducts the US Open every year, this tournament allows anyone with a handicap of 1.4 or lower to attempt to qualify. Only the top players in the world of golf and 79 of 8,000 or more people who entered, can qualify, and play among the world’s best, with no sponsor exemptions. Your spot in that field is earned, not given because you’re great at another sport. I know a lot of people will disagree with me but I feel some will understand why letting Curry play on a sponsor’s exception seems unfair.
Each week, there are 115-130 players in the field for each event (the cap depends on a number of variables). The field fills up every week because these players have dedicated their lives to making the PGA Tour, every dollar counts at the end of the year. By Curry taking one of those spots, he is taking the place of a member of the Web.com Tour that is busting his ass, day in and day out, to reach the pinnacle of his sport. He’s taking an opportunity away from someone that needs it WAY more than he does. I understand Steph isn’t playing for the money or the fame, but rather for the love of the game. Personally, I don’t think he knows how much that spot in the field is worth to a member of the tour. It may seem like I’m shaming Curry for this, but it’s really the tour that’s allowing the sponsor exemption to happen. He understands the time and effort these pros have put in to get to the level they are at, as Curry explained in a Golfworld article:
“I’m very sensitive to the experience of the PGA Tour guys out there who have dedicated their life to what they do, just like I have with basketball. I don’t think I could, obviously, just jump out there; it’d be a lot of work that would go into it.”
I respect the fact that Steph is going to step on that first tee and want to be prepared for the tournament, he knows what it takes to be the best of the best. But was it the right move for the tour to give him a spot in the field? Would you want a big name athlete playing in your favorite sports events just because they were given a sponsor exemption, and not based on talent? I doubt it.