Angela Stanford waved long before she reached the 18th green and heard the clapping and whistling of the assembled fans as she strolled down the fairway. Stanford lives just 60 miles from the Old American Golf Club in Fort Worth and last year won the Volunteers of America Classic title with just a few of their Texans surrounding the green. This year, the 21-year-old LPGA Tour veteran goes into the final round with a -9 overall, just five strokes behind the lead, basking in the opportunity to defend her title in front of a rowdy group of family, friends and fans.
“You gave me a very warm welcome on the first tee. I thought that was cool, ”said Stanford, who carded a bogey-free 65 on Saturday, the lowest round of her nine tournament appearances. “I think I’m one of those players where people don’t scream and cheer a lot, but it was just a really cool first tee today. I burst into tears because no one was here to see it last year. “
Saturday brought the strongest winds yet during tournament play with steady breezes at 10-15 mph playing tricks with the players’ heads. Stanford’s experience of the conditions – she called the easterly winds “the toughest wind out here” – gave her confidence that she needed to be patient and aggressive at the same time.
“I think it just makes me more conservative,” said Stanford. “Then I think that gets me into a rhythm, and I’ll start doing putts and then, before you know it, you’ll have a good lap.”
If Stanford wins the title on Sunday, she would be the first player to successfully defend a title since Nelly Korda won the Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA in 2018 and 2019. And Stanford knows about a five-stroke deficit. That’s the lead she got to win the 2018 Amundi Evian Championship, her first major title. The score? -14 and -9, the same values after the third round in The Colony, Texas.