Steph Curry still on ’emotional ride’ three weeks after Warriors title

Twenty days later, at the driving range Wednesday at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course — with the sun shining and the lake sparkling nearby — Curry found himself in a different realm. He had just completed a pro-am run alongside his father Dell and brother Seth. Stephen Curry looked relaxed, peaceful, calm.

But make no mistake: The NBA championship euphoria was still bouncing around him. Curry and his Golden State Warriors have come a long way, nearly nine months from the first day of training camp to the Larry O’Brien Trophy presentation on June 16.

Additionally, Curry had gone four years without rushing to win a title. So 20 days is not enough for the adrenaline to evaporate. No way.

“I’m still in an emotional race, 100%,” he said in an interview with The Chronicle. “Anytime you see a climax or someone says ‘congratulations,’ you always have the competition juices flowing. I love that feeling. I missed it.”

Curry will pursue a different kind of sports satisfaction this week on the shores of Lake Tahoe. He will be making his 10th appearance in the American Century Championship, a celebrity golf tournament for athletes and celebrities to compete in their hobby.

For Curry, it’s a serious hobby. He’s a scratch player who finished fourth at Edgewood and has played twice in Korn Ferry Tour events (the top minor league on the PGA Tour). Curry has also become something of a promoter, seeking to diversify golf by funding the Howard University program and, more recently, launching the Underrated Tour to give young minority players greater access to the game.

His near-annual visit to Tahoe has become an off-season ritual, a way for him to measure his golf game while spending time with family and friends. Curry said he has already started training for the 2022-23 NBA season — in the gym, not on the field — but also visits the shooting range for two hours a day.

Golf is his refuge in many ways.

“It frees me up, gives me some competitiveness, and just allows me to be in a space with people that I want to be with,” Curry said, looking at his dad and brother. “So I’m enjoying it.”

He always pays attention to NBA news, of course. It’s been an eventful three weeks since the Warriors sent the Celtics to the Finals, with five Golden State players — Gary Payton II, Otto Porter Jr., Nemanja Bjelica, Damion Lee and Juan Toscano-Anderson — leaving in free agency. The Warriors kept center Kevon Looney.

Curry and Draymond Green reportedly called Payton to try to convince him to stay. Payton eventually signed a three-year, $28 million deal with Portland, about double what the Warriors offered him.

Curry didn’t exactly deny contacting Payton.

“We all knew how hard it would be to keep everyone, but we tried,” Curry said. “It shows how much we appreciate him, Loon, Otto. We tried to keep them all; thank God we got Loon back. …

“The league changes so fast, and obviously when you win, good things happen to good people. We’re going to miss those five guys, but there are opportunities for other guys. Some of this year’s draft picks and from last year, plus (James Wiseman), all have the chance to step in.

As for facing defensive demon Payton when the Warriors meet the Trail Blazers?

“It will be a challenge,” Curry said, “but he knows I’m ready for it.”

Curry’s preparation for the next NBA season is a short-lived challenge following his sixth trip to the Finals in eight years. He doesn’t have the (frustrating) luxury of a long offseason, as he has each of the past two years when the Warriors missed the playoffs.

This time they have more than three months, not more than five, between the end of a season and the start of training camp. Curry turns 35 towards the end of next season (March 14), so he knows the importance of coming back while giving his body a break.

“It’s a slow drip,” he says. “I understand the rhythm, I’ve been here for 13 years. I know how to lower it and raise it for next year.

For now, Curry will try to increase his golf swing. His official handicap rating is +0.1, according to the Northern California Golf Association (translation: he’s really good). He posted four scores in June and July, three 73s and one 75.

Curry has finished fourth in the Tahoe event three times, most recently in 2020. He took ninth place last year out of an 87-man field.

He acknowledged his competitiveness on the course, saying he was simultaneously trying to win the tournament and the as-yet-unofficial family bet with Dell and Seth.

“I’m very competitive, but I’m also going to stay in the moment and enjoy it,” he said. “That’s one thing I’ve learned here long enough: enjoy every day.”

Ron Kroichick is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected]: @ronkroichick