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For love of the game

August 18 2012, Neal Reid

Stanford enjoying every aspect of career more now than ever

Finding joy in life is a common quest for everyone, but for a professional athlete, truly enjoying what they do on a daily basis after years of dedication and sacrifice can be a difficult endeavor.

Luckily for 12-year pro Angela Stanford, she has found peace, has found the joy and satisfaction in every aspect of her career, including the less-glamorous parts like practicing. As a result, she says she is having more fun now than ever.

“I’m kind of overwhelmed and feel really blessed that I’m enjoying the game so much now,” said Stanford, a five-time LPGA champion. “I haven’t enjoyed the game this much in my life. I’ve never enjoyed wanting to get better, and I’ve always viewed practice as a chore. For the first time in my life, I enjoy it. That has nothing to do with the money or trophies.

“I’m enjoying the game, and that’s very different. I’ve never had that in my life or my career. I consider it a blessing that I’m fortunate enough to enjoy this game later in my life.”

After a two-month rest between seasons, Stanford has enjoyed continued success in 2012. A year after posting nine top-10 finishes and seven top-fives, Stanford earned her fifth career title at the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore in February and stands seventh on the LPGA money list.

Stanford credits off-the-course factors for helping her find the newfound peace.

“I’m not sure how to pinpoint it, but I think a lot of it has to do with life outside of golf,” she said.

Stanford’s mother, Nan, was diagnosed with breast cancer in the summer of 2009, and the Texan created the Angela Stanford Foundation the same year. Stanford had previously held golf tournaments to benefit local charities and ramped up her efforts to give back to her community after her mother’s diagnosis.

Her foundation awards college scholarships to students who have been diagnosed with cancer or who have had family members diagnosed with the disease. This year, eight scholarships will be awarded to those affected by cancer so they can pursue their dreams of getting a college education.

“We’ve seen how cancer has affected families,” Stanford said. “I’ve said that, if my mom had gotten her diagnosis of breast cancer when I was a senior in high school, we might have been in trouble (financially). When someone in a family has cancer, all financial assets go toward medical bills. So, all of a sudden, if you have kids who are looking to go to college, it gets thrown up in the air.

“We’re trying to help those families who need a little bit of help, because there’s a ripple effect of cancer that ripples throughout the family.”

Because of her personal experience with cancer in her family and through her foundation, Stanford has gained an invaluable perspective about life.

“I think you really start to enjoy the things you have,” she said. “I’m starting to realize that (golf is just) a game, and it allows me to do things I want to do in life. I’m very blessed to have the opportunities I have.”

Stanford takes her foundation’s work very seriously and thoroughly enjoys being able to help those in need.

“There’s a responsibility when people say, ‘Here, I’m going to give you my money and trust you to do something positive with it,’” Stanford said. “There’s a responsibility in that, but it’s also pretty cool.”

Topics: Player Feature, Stanford, Angela

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