Angela Stanford is as Texas as Babe Zaharias, Kathy Whitworth and her hometown institutions such as Joe T. Garcia’s, a Mexican restaurant in Fort Worth since 1935, and Texas Christian University, where Stanford was a four-time All- America for the Horned Frogs.
Like the Lone Star State, Stanford does things in a big way. She won the Fort Worth Girls Championship four times; took the Texas State 4A High School Championship in 1996; won nine college tournaments for TCU; and, in 2018 at age 40, came from five back after 54 holes to win her first LPGA major at The Evian Championship.
Perhaps most memorably, however, Angela defeated Suzann Pettersen, 2 and 1, in a crucial singles match as the United States won six of the final seven contests to storm from behind and snatch the 2015 Solheim Cup from Europe 14½-13½ in Germany.
Stanford will return to the Solheim Cup at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, next year – this time as one of Captain Pat Hurst’s assistants. Hurst announced Stanford as an Assistant Captain on Thursday, although she shared the news with Angela weeks ago.
“I was just at home that night hitting balls,” Stanford said about getting a text from Hurst on April 21 asking her to call.
“Thought we were just kind of catching up,” Stanford says. “When she asked, it was kind of between tears and total excitement. And it was so hard because when you're in quarantine, I was bouncing off the walls the rest of the night and there was nobody there to enjoy that with me. I called my parents and they were thrilled and super excited.”
Stanford first played in the Solheim Cup at Barseback, Sweden, in 2003 after she earned a spot on the team with the first of her six LPGA victories at the ShopRite Classic that year and then, a week later, was second by one stroke to Hilary Lunke in an 18-hole playoff at the U.S. Women’s Open.
The victory over Pettersen – who emerged as the face of the opposition for Team USA in Germany after she penalized Alison Lee for knocking away a putt within concession distance in a four-ball match – was one of many key moments in the team effort that was the U.S. comeback.
“I would have to say, it's got to be a top-five memory,” Stanford says of where that match ranks among her career achievements.
“That morning when I walked out on putting green, I remember looking at my caddie saying, ‘Hey, this is my turn. This is it. Let's go,’” Stanford says. “It felt so good, probably from start to finish, one of the best rounds I've ever played in my life and just, it's a memory that's hard to put into words. I kind of get chills thinking about it.”
Stanford, 42, has been a Tour standout since first earning her LPGA card with a fourth-place finish at the 2000 Final Qualifying Tournament. Since her rookie year in 2001, she’s played 461 tournaments with career earnings in excess of $11.3 million. In both 2008 and 2009, she was within the top 10 of the Rolex Rankings.
Born and raised in Fort Worth, Stanford has never strayed from her Texas roots. The website for angelastanfordfoundation.org sports the purple colors of TCU. She formed the foundation in 2009 to help students whose families were affected by cancer get a college education, the same year her mother, Nan, was diagnosed with breast cancer.
In terms of Solheim Cup excitement, what happened at Gleneagles in Scotland last year equals or surpasses drama produced by any team competition – male or female – including Germany. Trailing 13½-11½ (a tie in any of the three remaining matches would have let the USA retain the Cup 14-14), Europe won all three for a 14½-to-13½ victory to match the U.S. comeback in 2015.
The outcome in Scotland was decided by the final putt on the final green of the final match on the golf course – made by Pettersen. That’s a feeling Stanford knows very well.
“Just having everybody on the 17th green in the end, and knowing what Gerina [Piller] did on 18,” Stanford said about being cheered on by her teammates in Germany after Piller made an 8-foot putt on the final green to defeat Caroline Masson, 1 up.
“Without Gerina on 18, me on 17, wouldn't have been possible,” Stanford says. “So that's the cool aspect of that week is that it takes everybody.”
Thirty years ago, the first Solheim Cup was played at Lake Nona near Orlando and won in a rout by the United States, 11½ to 4½. But any fears that the match would turn into a one-sided affair were erased when Europe won the second contest, which was played in Scotland, where Europe is 3-0.
The overall score now stands USA 10, Europe 6, with Europe winning three of the last five, including its only victory on American soil at Colorado Golf Club in 2013. When the two sides get together at Inverness in 2021 – concluding on Sept. 6, Labor Day Monday – history will once again be on the line and Angela Stanford will once again be part of it.