Stanford unveils plans
Angela Stanford, aged 35, has her goals set for 2013. She is intent on making a successful defence of her HSBC Women's Champions title in Singapore - and going on from there to win her first major.
The phlegmatic Texan has had a couple of tantalisingly close calls in majors already, with particular reference to the 2003 US Open where she was involved in a three-way play-off with Hilary Lunke and Kelly Robbins. Lunke came out on top on that occasion as she made a three-footer at the fourth extra hole after Stanford had missed from a little further away.
In 2011, Stanford was up there with the leaders in both the Kraft Nabisco and the US Open, each time finishing inside the top five.
Recently, the player told Golf Digest that she has the feeling that the next three or four years could be her best yet. Aside from having designs on a major, she wants to tie up her career by playing in a couple more Solheim Cups and representing her country in the 2016 Olympics.
It is not too long ago that Stanford asked the now 52-year-old Juli Inkster, who played alongside her in the 2011 Solheim Cup at Killeen Castle, for the secret of her golfing longevity. Inkster's reply was that it had more to do with keeping her short-game well-honed than anything else.
Stanford took that on board, while she also opted for a less hectic travel schedule, one more in keeping with a 35-yerar-old golfer than one in her teens or twenties.
All along, she has benefited from having interests outside the tour such as her Angela Stanford Foundation which provides college scholarships for students whose families have been affected by cancer. On much the same tack, she has always brought the right combination of patience and humour to bear when dealing with golf's ups and downs.
There are plenty of players who would have taken umbrage at being quizzed on his or her only bad shot in a round of 66, but when that happened to Stanford at Tanah Merah in last year's first round, she took it in good heart. The shot in question was a three-wood which was a vintage top along the fairway of the 497 yards ninth.
"I always intended to lay up short of the water only not that short," came the player's sheepish admission. She suggested that her coach, Mike Wright, would be having a good laugh at her expense.
Stanford's attitude certainly served her well on a last day when she was on the course for a total of six hours.
When play was resumed after an electrical storm, she missed the six-footer she had at the 18th or 72nd to win outright. Yet she put that behind her to set out on the four-way play-off in a positive frame of mind - and duly won at the third extra hole from Jenny Shin.
After bagging that fifth title on the LPGA Tour, Stanford spoke of how she had been eying the HSBC trophy since the pro-am dinner when someone read out the list of winners - Lorena Ochoa, Jiyai Shin, Au Miyazato and Karrie Webb.
It struck her at once that there was no American in the mix and she said to herself, then, "I'm an American, I'd might as well give it a try."
No less than Tanah Merah, the Serapong course could work for Stanford. As she has pointed out, none of the women has played there before and none of them has too much time to get to know it.
"Much depends on whether it's one of those courses that you need to 'feel' a lot but, either way, a new course usually adds up to a level playing field."
The mere fact that it is in Singapore - Stanford's favourite golfing land away from home - is enough for her.
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