Angela Stanford was waving long before she got to the 18th green, taking in the claps and whistles from the gathered fans while she strolled down the fairway. Stanford lives just 60 miles from Old American Golf Club in Fort Worth and captured last year’s Volunteers of America Classic title with just a few of her native Texans surrounding the green. This year, the 21-year LPGA Tour veteran heads to the final round at -9 overall, just five strokes off the lead, and is basking in the opportunity to defend her title in front of a rowdy group of family, friends and fans.
“They gave me a very warm welcome on the first tee. I thought that was cool,” said Stanford, who carded a bogey-free 65 on Saturday, the lowest round in her nine tournament appearances. “I think I'm one of those players that people just don't scream and cheer for a whole lot, but it was just a really cool first tee today. Kind of made me tear up a little bit, because last year there was nobody here to see it.”
Saturday brought the strongest winds so far during tournament play, with steady breezes at 10-15 mph playing tricks with players’ minds. Stanford’s expertise in the conditions – she called the easterly winds “the hardest wind out here” – gave her the confidence that she needed to be patient and aggressive all at the same time.
“I think it just makes me be more conservative,” said Stanford. “Then I think that puts me in a rhythm and I start making putts, and then before you know it, you have a good round going.”
If Stanford takes the title on Sunday, she would be the first player to successfully defend a title since Nelly Korda won the 2018 and 2019 Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA. And Stanford knows her way around a five-stroke deficit. That’s the margin she overcame to win the 2018 Amundi Evian Championship, her first major title. The score? -14 and -9, the very same scores after the third round in The Colony, Texas.