Proud Texan enjoying success, consistency on Tour
BY NEAL REID
If LPGA players had to list the 10 most dangerous and intimidating golfers on Tour, chances are Angela Stanford’s name would not be among them.
The Texan continues to fly under the radar – as much as anyone with $6 million in career earnings can. Now in her 11th year on Tour, the four-time LPGA winner can’t really put her finger on why she is an “under the radar” player, but doesn’t let it affect her play.
“It’s hard to explain, and I’m not sure why,” Stanford said. “It doesn’t bother me, and I guess it just means I need to play better. I’ve always been that way. I was that way in junior golf and in college. I don’t know what it is, but it’s all right.”
Perhaps Stanford should be on that list though, as all she does is continue to evolve and improve as a player. Stanford has already banked nearly $700,000 this season, has not missed a cut and has posted six top-10 finishes in 12 starts.
The key, she says, has been consistency.
“I think any time you can be around the lead on Sunday and play consistently, it’s a lot more fun to play like that,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed the consistency of feeling like I always have a chance.”
Stanford believes improvements to her putting and short game have spurred her success, which has mostly come since 2007. During her first six years on Tour, Stanford won once, made the 2003 U.S. Solheim Cup Team, made a nice living and had a total of 14 top-10 finishes.
Then, it all began to really click. She had 12 top-10s in 2007 alone and added more Solheim Cup appearances in 2007 and 2009.
“I think I’ve turned my putting around,” said Stanford, who had 11 top-10s in both 2008 and 2009. “To be successful on the highest level, you have to putt well. Everybody at this level is a great ball-striker, so you’ve got to make putts. My putting has gotten better the last couple years. My overall short game has too, and I have a better understanding of shots around the greens and what I need to do.”
She also learned how to streamline her practice regimen in order to gain the greatest results.
“One of my former instructors, Amy Fox, told me when I got out here, ‘You need to watch the veterans. You need to watch where Juli Inkster spends most of her time and where Annika (Sorenstam) spends her time. They’re not always on the range pounding balls,’” said Stanford, who will be part of the U.S. Solheim Cup Team this year. “I’ve noticed that. Juli will be on the range to work on something, but for the most part, I see her around the putting green. It was the same thing with Annika and Lorena (Ochoa). All the best players are usually around the short-game area.”
Now that she’s worked her way into the top echelon of Tour players, Stanford has some specific goals for the future.
“I think you have to have goals,” she said. “One of my long-term goals is to make the Olympics and, within that, is to keep making the Solheim Cups. I grew up playing on teams and played a lot of team sports, so I love teams. Solheim Cups are always really important to me, because it’s fun to watch people come together for one goal. Obviously, to win a major would be nice.”
Stanford has been close to her last goal. She has seven career top-10 finishes in majors, including two this season, and has only missed the cut once in her last 11 majors.
Another goal, Stanford said, would be to get an LPGA event in her home state. With Commissioner Michael Whan dedicated to adding domestic events to go along with a growing slate of international tournaments, Stanford’s hoping her wish will become a reality.
“I think Texans have a lot of pride, and I always kid with my friends and call it ‘God’s country,’” she said. “I think the Dallas-Fort Worth area is really missing the boat because it doesn’t have an LPGA event. I know how Texans embraced the tournament at Colonial and the Byron Nelson, and I think they would really enjoy the women being there.
“I know how Texans are – they would pull them in and make them family. I just think it’d be a great fit, and not only because I’m from here. I’ve seen how they treat golfers around here, and they love golfers.”
Through her success on Tour, Stanford has been able to give back to the community she loves. In 2009, she established the Angela Stanford Foundation, which is dedicated to helping Dallas-area organizations and charities improve the quality of life for those in need.
Helping others is important for the easygoing, likeable Stanford.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have people help me along the way, and any time I got to a point where I really needed help, someone was there,” Stanford said. “One of my mottos is, ‘If you have a gift to give and you’re not giving it, then that’s wrong.’ I feel like I can give back through golf. I just feel like, if I didn’t give back to my community – which helped me get where I am – then that’s just wrong.
“It’s easy for me to do that, because I know how much this community and my family and friends have done to get me where I am today. So, it just makes sense to give back.”