IRVING — Angela Stanford, a Saginaw resident in her 13th season on the LPGA Tour, reflected Tuesday on her learning curve as a 22-year-old tour rookie.The former TCU standout said she “would have loved” an opportunity to compete as an amateur in a professional golf setting while still in college but no tour event offered that opportunity. But that chance exists for today’s college players at the inaugural North Texas LPGA Shootout, where 18 college golfers — including Texas A&M’s Chelsea Mocio, a Fort Worth Arlington Heights graduate — will have a chance to join Stanford and other pros in the field at DFW’s LPGA Tour stop, April 25-28 at Las Colinas Country Club.The college participants will play an 18-hole qualifier, dubbed the North Texas College Shootout, on Tuesday at Las Colinas with the top two finishers earning berths in the LPGA event.“I think it’s a great opportunity for them. I would have loved to have had it,” Stanford said. “My first LPGA event, everything came at me fast and furious. I think it’s a big deal that they get this chance. I hope they take it seriously.”Among the college participants are three golfers from TCU, four from SMU, one from Texas and five from Texas A&M, including Mocio.TCU’s threesome is comprised of Alexandria Bonetti, April McCoy and Sanna Nuutinen. Texas’ participant in the qualifier, Madison Pressel, is the younger sister of LPGA participant Morgan Pressel.Tournament officials also will reserve two spots for high school players in the $1.3 million event, which will feature a full field of 144 players. The high school golfers, whose names have not been announced, will take part in an 18-player qualifier on April 22.The 72-hole tournament will mark the LPGA’s first stroke-play event in DFW since the 1991 U.S. Women’s Open at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth.Kathy Whitworth, an LPGA Hall of Famer and member of Trophy Club Country Club who took part in Tuesday’s media day, said she was “absolutely thrilled” when she learned the tour would be back in the area for the first time in two decades.“The Texas people always were terrific to us. They were very supportive,” said Whitworth, 73, a Monahans native who won a tour-record 88 events and six major championships during her career. “It’s great to be back. I think this event is going to be outstanding.”In keeping with the shootout theme for the touring pros, the event will feature two cuts. The top 70 players, plus ties, will advance to the weekend rounds. But only the top 50 players, plus ties, will compete in Sunday’s final round. Rob Neal, the tournament director, said he expects the format to be popular with players.“We expect the best players in the world to be here,” Neal said.
Jimmy Burch, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @Jimmy_Burch