SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Angela Stanford saw a couple golf bags tumble over in the wind at 6:50 a.m. Friday and was reminded of missed opportunities. Overcast, gusty conditions made for a soupy day at Sebonack, and Stanford knew she should’ve taken advantage of yesterday’s calm conditions. She thought back to a stretch holes in Thursday’s round when her patience ran thin and proved costly.
“I knew we should’ve shot under par yesterday,” a tense Stanford said to her caddie.
Stanford, 35, wants badly to win a major. She’s a five-time winner on the LPGA and a four-time Solheim Cup participant.
But, as her mother Nan knows so well, it won’t mean as much to Stanford if she can’t walk away a major winner.
“She just feels like it would complete her career,” Nan said.
It was 10 years ago that Stanford came the closest to a U.S. Women’s Open victory. The Texan stormed her way into in a three-way Monday playoff with Hilary Lunke and Kelly Robbins at Pumpkin Ridge. Lunke, a most improbable winner and, ultimately a one-hit wonder, walked away the victor in 2003. Nan thought, nevermind, Angela will be in that position again soon enough.
“Now I realize how hard it is to get there,” Nan said.
A decade later, Stanford finds herself back in position to make a run at a USWO. She made six birdies in three sets of two on Friday. The best part of the day: She managed to stay patient after back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 5 and 6.
“I kind of told myself today to knock it off and don’t make the same mistake (as Thursday),” said Stanford. She shot 4-under 68 and enters the weekend four strokes behind leader I.K. Kim.
Maybe it’s the American flag flying high beside the clubhouse that made Stanford fall in love with Sebonack this week. Given it’s linksy feel and Stanford’s dislike of links-style courses, it’s somewhat surprising that the two get along. As for that thing about Texans playing well in the wind … Stanford hates the wind.
Now in her 13th year on the LPGA, Stanford finds herself still learning. She rehired Dan Chapman as her caddie, a move that brought more positive vibes to her game. Chapman is an optimist, and his outlook helped calm the naturally impatient Stanford.
“My poor caddie takes the brunt of it,” Stanford admitted. “When you see him walking way out in front of me, it’s probably because I’m just letting it go verbally and he doesn’t want to hear it anymore.”
To that end, Chapman offered a bit of advice last week that Stanford said has made a world of difference. He told her to pray for acceptance.
“I just need to accept certain things, and I think I’ve been very upset that I haven’t won a major,” she said.
“I think there is a level of peace right now and it’s different. I’m not as mad as I usually am. I have a lot of great things to be thankful for.”
Stanford said earlier in the season that she planned to play a lighter schedule this year, much like Steve Stricker. She recognized that she had been chasing titles around the world for over a decade, and that it was OK to relax.
Stanford will play fewer events this summer and fall, possibly even skipping the Ricoh Women’s British Open, in an effort to stay balanced and fresh.
Of course, those plans might change should she finally break through and win the big one. Stanford’s smile on Sunday would stretch from Southampton clear to Saginaw.
“I know my time’s coming,” Stanford said. “I just don’t know when.”