Two players from the Charlotte area — one beyond famous, one not well-known at all — finished at opposite ends of a pro golf tournament leaderboard in California last week.
Golden State Warriors star and former NBA MVP Stephen Curry drew more attention for finishing dead last in the Web.com Tour Ellie Mae Classic than Concord’s Trevor Cone did for winning it Sunday by four strokes.
Curry probably wants to forget this event. For Cone — who turned pro in 2015 after a collegiate career at Virginia Tech that included an ACC individual championship — the tournament could serve as a key moment in his career that he’s likely to always remember. And fondly.
Most significantly, Cone’s win puts a PGA Tour card within reach. The $108,000 paycheck moved him from No. 135 to No. 37 on the Web.com Tour money list.
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If he can do well in next week’s tournament in Portland, Ore., the final event in Web.com Tour’s regular season, he has a chance to finish in the Top 25 for the regular season. That would earn him a PGA Tour card. That’s somewhat equivalent to going from Triple A baseball to the majors.
“I’m definitely going to enjoy this tonight at least, and maybe even tomorrow, and then kind of shift gears,” he told reporters Sunday. “... Being No. 37 on the money list now, I’ve got a decent chance ... to get a PGA TOUR card, as odd as that sounds, but we’re going to go for it.”
Cone shot a 6-under 64 Sunday for a four-stroke victory over Josh Teater. Cone, who started the year with only conditional status on both the Web.com and Canada’s Mackenzie tours, according to the Associated Press, finished at 23-under 257 at TPC Stonebrae in Hayward, Calif. He opened with rounds of 64, 63 and 66 to take a one-stroke lead into the final round.
Cone is a former All-State golfer at Jay M. Robinson High School in Concord who finished fourth at the 2011 3A state tournament, according to Observer archives. At Virginia Tech, he rose quickly; he was named the Hokies’ Most Outstanding Golfer and Rookie of the Year after his freshman season.
Curry, 30, opened with an impressive 1-over 71 for his first round, but followed with a disastrous 86 for his second. Curry finished 33 strokes behind second-round leader Alex Prugh and missed the cut by 13 strokes.
That’s a step down overall from last year, when Curry shot 74-74 to tie for 148th and missed the cut by 11 shots.
“I couldn’t hit a driver to save my life ... so that’s how golf goes,” Curry told reporters Friday. “One day you have it, or at least in the amateur world, one day you have it and one day you completely lose it and you have no idea what you’re doing over the top of the ball.”
On the other hand, the former Davidson star does have three NBA championships, two MVP awards and numerous other basketball honors with which to console himself. Golf is after all, not his first job.