As the best and most avid golfer on the current Carolina Panthers team, backup quarterback Derek Anderson has thought more than most about whether basketball star Steph Curry will be able to hang with the professional golfers on the Web.com tour starting Thursday.
“I think he’s a little over his skis,” Anderson said of Curry, who grew up in Charlotte and started becoming a household sports name at Davidson. “I know he’s a good player and preparing and doing all the right things. But I don’t think – and I’m fortunate enough to have played with a lot of those (Web.com) guys in the offseason every day – I don’t think people understand how good a professional golfer is.”
When I asked Anderson to put a percentage on Curry’s chances of making the cut after the first two rounds in the Web.com event in Northern California, the quarterback said: “Probably less than 10, legitimately. I mean, I’m not hating on his game. I just know that it’s tough.”
Seven years a backup
Like Curry, Anderson is an extremely good golfer among professional athletes who play other sports. But when it comes to competing with pro golfers, he said he has played enough rounds with real golfers from both the Web.com and PGA Tours to know he’s not at that same level. The same goes for punter Andy Lee and wide receiver Brenton Bersin, who Anderson would place along with himself in the top three of best Panthers golfers on the current team.
And that’s OK, because golf is not Anderson’s primary sport. The 13-year NFL veteran will be the Panthers’ primary backup quarterback for the seventh straight season in 2017. For the past two days, that has meant he has thrown every pass in the starting group as Newton rests his sore throwing shoulder by only handing off.
How does Newton like that?
“I think he hates it,” Anderson said.
Anderson has long been one of the most well-reasoned observers of Newton, who had shoulder surgery March 30. The Panthers are taking it very cautiously with Newton, which likely means we will see a lot of Anderson once again in the preseason.
“I don’t think there’s really anything to worry about,” said Anderson of Newton’s injury. He added that he thought Newton’s velocity during the first four practices of this training camp was as good as it always has been.
The extended preseason time for Anderson won’t be the biggest thing that will happen to the quarterback and his family this month, though. He and his wife are expecting another child in late August.
Whiffing on Peppers
Anderson, 34, has been around long enough now that he sees a lot of the same things come around again in the NFL. One of those is Julius Peppers, who Anderson calls “one of the biggest human beings I’ve ever seen in my life.”
“We called a reverse in the preseason when I was playing at Arizona (in 2010),” Anderson said. “I was supposed to block him and I came around … and then I was like ‘Hmmm, no.’ ... I kind of just whiffed, and he just pushed me in the ground.”
As for now teaming with Peppers, 37, Anderson said: “I think God really kind of built this perfect specimen and said, ‘Don’t mess it up.’ Cam is kind of the same way. They have these physical tools not many people have.”
Anderson has never had those sorts of tools, but to say he’s not a good athlete is incorrect. He moves decently for a pocket passer and he still can laser the ball into tight spaces. Anderson’s touchdown throw to Greg Olsen on Wednesday between three defenders in a goal-line drill was a thing of beauty.
Golf is his off-field passion, but Anderson is not sure he will be able to get to a round at the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club next week when Charlotte hosts a major. Still, Anderson has some ideas who might win the tournament: Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler or Kevin Chappell (a close friend of Anderson’s who the QB said was his “biased pick”).
In the meantime, all Web.com tournament directors take note: Anderson said that if somebody decided to give him a sponsor’s exemption like Curry received this week, the quarterback would absolutely take them up on it. That’s as long as it doesn’t interfere with his real job, which for right now has gotten very busy.