Kim chasing first LPGA title in Arkansas
ROGERS, Ark. — Angela Stanford needed some time to adjust to her family’s new challenge. After her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, she struggled on the course in July and early August.
“I really thought I was going to handle it better, and I didn’t right off the bat,” Stanford said. “Now, it is a new normal. ... We know what’s going to happen, and we know it’s going to be a good end. So that makes it a lot easier.”
Stanford shot a 2-under 69 Saturday to move to second place at the P&G Beauty NW Arkansas Championship. She trails Song-Hee Kim by two strokes heading into the final round.
Stanford’s season began in promising fashion with a victory at the SBS Open and two more top 10 finishes. In late June, however, she announced that her mother, Nan Stanford, would soon begin chemotherapy.
In her next tournament, Stanford finished tied for 49th. She then missed the cut at the U.S. Women’s Open and finished tied for 52nd at the Evian Masters.
After tying for 20th in the Women’s British Open, Stanford played in the Solheim Cup, and her mother made the trip to Illinois to be with her. Since then, Stanford has finished in the top 10 in two straight tournaments and will try to win this one Sunday on the 6,244-yard course at Pinnacle Country Club.
Her mother is about halfway through chemotherapy, and Stanford says she’s doing well.
“I think it’s probably going to be tough the next nine weeks, because from what I understand, when the chemo is building in your body, it gets harder,” Stanford said. “But I just keep telling her, you know, there’s a positive end. There’s going to be an end to this, and so she’s doing great right now.”
Stanford shot a 37 on the front nine, six strokes worse than her first-round performance. She made up for that with birdies on Nos. 11, 14 and 18.
Kim shot a 68 despite hitting only 6 of 13 fairways. The 21-year-old South Korean is trying for her first win on the LPGA Tour.
“I had to be patient today,” she said. “I made a lot of up-and-downs, and I made a lot of good par putts.”
Kim has played par 5s in 6 under in the first two rounds of the 54-hole event. She said Friday she’d been feeling tired because this was her fourth tournament in four weekends, but now any fatigue might be wiped out by adrenaline.
“I cannot wait to play tomorrow,” she said.
Sandra Gal was the first-round leader at 7 under, but she shot a 76 Saturday. That was reminiscent of her struggles at the Women’s British Open, when she shot a 69 in the first round and followed it up with an 80.
Na Yeon Choi shot the low round Saturday with a 65 and is in a three-way tie for third, a shot behind Stanford. The wind picked up a bit for the second round, resulting in higher scores.
Jane Park (70) was at 5 under and well within striking distance, especially if she can repeat her final-round 62 from this event last year. She finished one shot behind winner Seon Hwa Lee in 2008.
“It’s good to be in the mix,” Park said. “The course is definitely playing harder with the wind, as every course does.”
Lee (68) is unlikely to repeat at even par, but she did make the cut. So did Cristie Kerr (70) and Michelle Wie (70). They are at 3 under, a stroke ahead of Paula Creamer (70), Natalie Gulbis (69) and Morgan Pressel (69).
Local hope Stacy Lewis, the former University of Arkansas golfer who won the 2007 NCAA championship, bounced back with a 67 in the second round after playing the first in 2 over. Kelli Shean, who currently plays for the Razorbacks, also shot a 67 to qualify for Sunday’s final round at 1 over.