Stanford energized in 12th season on Tour
Ten years is a long time in any profession, but grinding it out on a professional golf tour for a decade can seem like more than a chore.
For Angela Stanford, who is in the midst of her 12th season on the LPGA Tour, a much-needed break in the offseason has her rejuvenated and raring to go, and the results have been there. The Texan earned her fifth career LPGA win in February at the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore, has missed just one cut in eight events in 2012 and stands seventh on the LPGA money list with $311,119.
Stanford took an extended break away from the game – from mid-November to mid-January – and the time off and rest have been just what she needed.
“I took the longest break I’ve taken as a professional in the offseason, and I think I just really needed a break mentally to get rejuvenated and excited about it again,” said Stanford, who has amassed more than $6.8 million in career earnings. “I just needed a break to reset. Sometimes, you get into routines mentally and physically, and sometimes you just need a break. I’ve always thought that, the more times you can get away from something, the more you forget the bad.
“So, when I started again in January, I felt fresh and didn’t have any of those (bad) thoughts. All the negative was gone, and it was like starting with a new slate.”
Stanford has learned to live with the roller-coaster nature of being a professional athlete and how to keep herself grounded and focused.
“You get through your first five or six years on Tour, and all of a sudden you hit your first lull,” she said. “You get rejuvenated again, and then there’s another lull. I think it’s just about learning how to handle the ups and the downs.”
Learning how to deal with the highs and lows has been part of Stanford’s longevity as a pro, and she feels blessed to still be playing the game she loves at a high level after more than a decade.
“If somebody would have told me my rookie year, ‘You will still be playing in 12 years, and you will enjoy it more than you did in Year One,’ I would say, ‘You’re crazy,’” said Stanford, who has 63 career top-10 finishes. “I’ve been very lucky.”
The time off between seasons gave Stanford time to think about the parts of her golf game she wanted to improve, and she has set about doing just that this season.
“I think this year, I’ve been more focused on working on things I haven’t worked on in the past,” said Stanford, who is 15th in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. “I’ve always said my chipping is my weakest link, and I’m starting to get to a point where I want to make those things better. My mental game and my short game have kept me from achieving everything I’ve wanted, so a lot of my time off in the offseason was spent thinking about that. You try to figure out if you want it bad enough to try and work on the things that have held you back.”
Experience and perspective have also helped Stanford, a four-time U.S. Solheim Cup Team member, hone in on how to fine-tune her game.
“Experience and patience go hand-in-hand, and maybe that does make me a little more mentally tough,” said Stanford, who is second in the 2013 U.S. Solheim Cup standings. “Like everyone, I still have my moments, but I think I’m learning and that experience has a lot to do with it. I haven’t always had that patience, and I haven’t always had that frame of mind that you can’t win it on Thursday, but you can lose it. When I was a younger player, I wasn’t thinking that. I was trying to win it on Thursday, and that’s really not how you go about winning tournaments and majors.”
And with the acquisition of knowledge, Stanford’s confidence has grown as well.
“You don’t always get instant rewards in golf, but it was nice to get (a win) early (this season) so that I know that I’m on the right track,” she said. “I know that, if I’m hanging around on Sunday, I’m going to have a chance.”