Angela Stanford makes a move
SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. -- When you've been at this golf business for so long, there might not necessarily be new things to learn. But there always will be things to relearn.
Take American veteran Angela Stanford, for example. Patience may be a virtue, and even a "super-virtue," in golf. But she doesn't naturally possess it. In fact, she has an abundance of the opposite.
The good thing is, she is also self-aware. And so, after a first-round 73 Thursday at the U.S. Women's Open in which she felt she'd sabotaged herself with her inherent impatience, Stanford was determined not to make the same mistake Friday.
She kept her cool and put up the best round of those who teed off in the morning at a much windier Sebonack Golf Club. Stanford's 4-under 68 put her at 3-under 141 overall, and she trails leader Inbee Park by six shots.
"I left here upset [Thursday] night because I kind of lost it mentally," Stanford said of the double bogey and bogey that followed a missed birdie putt on her ninth hole [No. 18] in the first round. "I recognized [Thursday] was the easiest the course was going to play. I felt like I missed out on an opportunity. It just makes it harder the rest of the week."
But what she did on Friday might make the weekend easier. This time when she hit a rough spot, with bogeys on Nos. 5 and 6, Stanford told herself not to go down the same ruinous road.
"I said, 'Pull it together and get a par, and let's start again,' " she said.
She parred out the front nine and then had four birdies and five pars on the back.
"I'm thankful for family and friends," Stanford said of what calmed her down Thursday night. "They tend to believe in you, sometimes, when maybe you lack a little (belief)."
Stanford, 35, has won five LPGA titles, but no majors. She's had close calls at the Women's Open before. None were closer than in 2003 when she lost in a three-way, 18-hole playoff to Hilary Lunke, who is retired now and has only that one LPGA victory to her name.
"I feel very fortunate to have had that opportunity and experience," said Stanford, who also was fourth in the storm-plagued 2011 Women's Open. "But I'm also fortunate I'm still playing and competing at U.S. Opens. I'd love to have that trophy, and I know my time's coming. I just don't know when."
That said, Stanford realistically has had to make peace with the idea that -- despite her positive talk -- maybe winning a major won't happen. She's still trying, though.
"The longer I do this, the more [I know] there is an element of luck that plays into it," she said. "And I've seen a little bit so far. That doesn't mean I'm going to be lucky the next couple of days."
That's not negativity as much as pragmatism. Asked how she vents her frustration on the course in the most constructive way, Stanford said, "My poor caddie takes the brunt of it. When you see him walking way out in front of me, it's probably because I'm just letting it go verbally."
Dan Chapman, who's been on Stanford's bag since last summer and also had a previous stay working with her, said caddies have to figure out when their player needs to let off steam.
"They're all going to have those moments," Chapman said. "I used to say to her, 'Put out all the negativity, I'll take my positive hammer and smash it.' It's just kind of waiting for it to get out, and if the timing is right, splash a little positive in. You have to have timing as a caddie and know when it's time to just walk ahead and let them do their thing."
Stanford said Chapman told her last week to learn to accept some bad breaks and not get as upset about them.
"So I'm not as mad as I usually am," she said. "I have a lot of great things to be thankful for, so I'm trying to enjoy this week."
No one is ever done relearning that sentiment.