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Evian Championship – Angela Stanford Wins First LPGA Major Title

Article by Steve Eubanks of Global Golf Post

Was it everything she’d hoped, everything she’d dreamt about, not only as a kid but as a college standout and a tour player who’s been around so long that Annika Sörenstam, who has been retired for a decade, called her a contemporary?

“Too soon to know,” Angela Stanford told me just minutes after she charged from five shots back to win the Evian Championship and become the first person in history to win their first major championship in their 77th try.

The feelings were certainly overwhelming. Tears flowed like the fountains of Evian amidst shameless, gasping sobs, an outpouring of emotions that most 40-year-old women temper when they need to, and embrace when the moment is right. If ever there was such a moment, this was it.

Stanford’s mother, Nan, battled breast cancer in 2009 when her daughter was a 31-year-old four-time winner on tour who had cracked the top 10 in the world rankings. Surgeries and chemo followed. Angela was devastated. She won again in 2012, once Nan was symptom-free. But things weren’t the same. As Angela put it, “I make a lot of bad swings; I do a lot of stupid stuff.”

She does a lot of great stuff, too, like charity events to raise money and awareness for breast cancer.

“I’ve always believed that God has a plan,” Anglea said after her victory at the Evian. “That doesn’t mean I haven’t doubted him, doesn’t mean I haven’t doubted that plan. But deep down I was with him one way or the other.”

Nan’s cancer returned this past June. Angela was playing in Arkansas when she learned the disease had spread to her mother’s bones.  The tears in the aftermath of this victory were for her mother and father, the fight they’ve shown and the unconditional love they gave their daughter.

“I tried to call (Mom) as I was walking onto the (18th) green,” Stanford told me of the moments after her victory but before the trophy presentation, a ceremony that had players like Sandra Gal and Katherine Kirk standing with the crowd. “(Mom) was crying and I was crying so there weren’t many words exchanged. I was like, ‘Did you see it?’ and she was like, ‘No, Dad was watching; I was praying.’ She can’t watch sometimes because she’s nervous.”

If she had watched, she would have seen her daughter fight, claw and scrap her way to a 12-under-par total. She would have seen four final holes that included an eagle, a double bogey, a birdie, and a par, all dramatic and extreme. She would have seen her hit the cup at a perfect pace, a 17-footer on the 72nd hole that every one of the thousands of fans watching felt sure she had made before it missed.

She would have seen her daughter fall to her knees assuming that the tournament was lost, that 12 under wouldn’t be good enough, as 26-year-old Amy Olson, who had led by two after the third round and held that same lead ahead of Stanford with two holes to play. But Olson failed to make a 10-footer for birdie on 17 after Stanford had birdied the same hole and then hooked her tee shot on 18, a mistake that led to a double bogey.

“Unfortunately I didn’t swing as well as I did the rest of the week,” Olson told me seconds after signing her scorecard, obviously disappointed but graceful to the end. “I missed a lot of fairways and a lot of greens. Just put a little bit more pressure on the putter and I just wasn’t reading the greens as well today. I hit the lines that I picked but I wasn’t feeling them as well as I was the first three days.”

Olson also told me, “I draw on my faith all the time out here. A big part of it is I’m very content with who I am. Ultimately, in a hundred years, what happens out (on the golf course) isn’t going to matter to anyone. What happened is how you treat people, what you do with your gifts and your opportunities, and how you use your platform. Whether I have a good day or a bad day, my faith determines my actions and my attitude. That gives me peace because the result doesn’t affect those things.”

“That’s Amy in a nutshell,” Stanford said. “She’s a great golfer but an even better human being.”

So is Angela Stanford, which everyone got to see as she draped herself in the American flag (delivered by skydivers onto the 18th green) and held the Evian trophy as every French and Swiss fan in attendance stood for the U.S. national anthem.

Two hours later, golf’s newest major champion was sitting quietly with fellow players Brittany Lang and Ally McDonald at an outdoor table at Rapido Pizza, a small restaurant across a tiny backstreet from a 24-hour laundromat in downtown Évian. The celebration meal: pepperoni, ham and cheese, a side cup of Häagen-Dazs ice cream, and a healthy dose of wisdom forged from perspective.

“I was prepared to retire and not be a major champion,” Stanford said. That was OK because it was God’s plan. Like I said, he has a sense of humor.”

Driver: Ping G400 Max (12.8 degrees, +0.6 setting)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-GT 5S
Length: 45 inches, tipped 0.5 inches
Swing weight: D1+

5 wood: Ping G400 (16.65 degrees, -1 setting)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-MT 6SR
Length: 43.25 inches

7 wood: Ping G400 (20.5 degrees, -0.6 setting)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-YS 6S
Length: 42 inches, tipped 0.5 inches

Irons: Ping i200 (4-PW)
Shafts: Nippon 950 SR (-0.25 inches)

Wedges: Ping Glide 2.0 SS (52, 56 and 60 degrees)
Shafts: Nippon 950 SR

Putter: Ping Vault 2.0 Dale Anser
Length: 33 inches
Lie angle: 67 degrees
Loft: 4 degrees

Ball: Titleist Pro V1

Republished with permission from Global Golf Post