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Stanford Stands Alone at LPGA Senior Championship

(LPGA) HURRICANE, Utah – Until Saturday in the windswept desert of Southern Utah, no player had ever successfully defended the LPGA Senior Championship. Angela Stanford knew that. “I was looking at the trophy last year and I said, ‘Hm, nobody has gone back-to-back,’” Stanford said with a cocked head and a wry smile.

That changed on another breezy Saturday afternoon at Copper Rock Golf Course when Stanford fired a 3-under 69 to finish the 54-hole event at 10-under, three shots better than Cristie Kerr and eight clear of Sweden’s Maria McBride.

Not only did Stanford make history by successfully defending, she did so with the same score. In 2023 at Sultan’s Run Golf Course in Jasper, Ind., Stanford shot 10-under to beat Karrie Webb by two.

“It was different than last year,” Stanford said. “We went from a soggy, rainy Indiana to high-altitude, dry, windy Utah. So, they were very different tournaments. That might have helped me to repeat in that I thought they were very different tournaments.”

It’s also the first time Stanford has ever successfully defended a professional title.

“I think you always put pressure on yourself,” she said. “I’ve never defended anything, maybe in junior golf, but nothing at the professional level. There are so many great players in this field and then you had someone like Cristie Kerr. I knew what she was going to bring today. She was going to play well. She has her entire career.” 

Stanford started the final round with a two-shot lead over Kerr and ultimately stretched it to three, but Saturday was a lot closer than the results indicated. A birdie by Kerr at the fifth pulled her within a shot. By the time they reached eight, it was essentially match play between longtime rivals, just like the good ol’ days. 

Stanford led by a shot on the ninth tee, but after she made a sloppy bogey, the lead changed when Kerr rolled in a curling 12-footer for birdie. Fists pumped and the intensity heightened as the largest gallery ever for this event marched to the back nine.

“Honestly, I think that bogey helped me to settle down,” Stanford said. “Sometimes I’m better when I get knocked down. It makes me fight a little bit. I kind of got hit in the mouth there and it woke me up.” 

Once fully awake, Stanford holed a lengthy birdie putt at 10 to regain a share of the lead. Two holes later she played the par-5 12th perfectly, leaving her second shot on the upslope just below the green.

She almost chipped in for eagle.

“I learned a lot from yesterday,” Stanford said of the 12th hole. “I aimed further left off the tee and had a better lie in the fairway. I knew that it would be better to be short, and then I had a basic uphill chip there.” 

Kerr came close to turning it around again. On the par-4 14th, after Stanford hit her approach 18 feet past the hole, Kerr hit a wedge shot that almost went in twice, once on the fly and again when it spun back, hitting the flagstick and stopping six inches away. But it just wasn’t Kerr’s day. After tapping in for birdie, Stanford rolled her 18-footer in on top of her to retain the lead.

Another birdie by Stanford at the par-5 16th extended the lead to two. And when Kerr bogeyed 17, the lead was three and Stanford’s victory seemed secure.

“I played good,” Kerr said. “I just didn't get a lot of putts to fall. And Angela played really solid coming in. I didn't have a good back nine yesterday, and that cost me. But I’ve just got to take away the positives. I’ve got a major championship, KPMG, in three weeks, and I’m finding some form. I played well under really tough conditions.”

Stanford agreed.  On having a three-shot lead coming down 18, she called it, “Really nice. Three was certainly better than two or one.” 

She meant the margin of her lead. But looking ahead to next year’s LPGA Senior Championship, that same quote might apply.

Three is, indeed, better than two or one.


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