Angela Stanford, a Fort Worth resident and five-time winner on the LPGA Tour, will be part of her fifth U.S. Solheim Cup team when matches begin Friday at Colorado Golf Club in Parker, Colo.
Stanford, a former TCU and Saginaw Boswell standout, has helped the U.S. claim two cups during her professional career (2009, 2007). She considers the biennial team competition a career highlight and a potential springboard to her first major championship.
“I grew up playing team sports. I like when people work together for one goal,” said Stanford, who played basketball and golf at Boswell High School. “When I win a tournament, it’s just me and my caddie. But when you win as a team, playing for your country, it means so much more.
“I’ve won a couple of Solheim Cups. So winning a major would be big now, because I haven’t done it yet. But I think if I could look back some day and say we won four Solheim Cups, you’ve got to feel pretty good with that. The older I get, the more I try to appreciate what I’ve done instead of beat myself up about what I haven’t done. I think that approach may help me win a major.”
Stanford, 35, will have one more opportunity to capture a major title this season, at The Evian Championship (Sept. 12-15). But this will be her lone shot at bringing the Solheim Cup back to the U.S. after watching the European team claim the title in 2011.
Stanford will be joined on the U.S. team by Gerina Piller, a Plano resident and Solheim Cup rookie who also works with swing instructor Mike Wright, the head golf professional at Shady Oaks Country Club in Fort Worth. That makes Wright the swing coach for two of the 12 players on the U.S. team.
Stanford, who ranks 16th in the women’s world golf rankings and has a career mark of 3-7-3 in Solheim Cup matches, reflected recently on Wright’s influence, the team assembled by U.S. captain Meg Mallon and other issues heading into Friday’s opening matches:
On the course, a par-72 layout that will measure 7,066 yards for Solheim Cup competitors: “It doesn’t feel that long unless you look at the numbers on the scorecard. There are a couple of reachable par-5s and, over the last five holes, anything can happen. It won’t matter where your match stands until then. There will be a lot of drama over the last five holes. There’s a lot of risk/reward holes at the end. I think it will be a great match-play course.”
On expectations for Piller, a close friend whose nickname (“Rookie”) has nothing to do with her Solheim Cup status: “She got it because she keeps doing rookie things even though this is her third year on tour. I think she’ll do great. I think ignorance is bliss. I’m going to lay it on double-thick [with ‘Rookie’ references] this week. I’ve caught a couple of teammates picking up on it, too.”
On the influence of Wright as a swing coach: “He’s one of the best, a hidden gem. We’ve been working together since . Now we’re at a point where he can help me with my golf swing and with my perspective, too. … A lot of times, teachers just say, ‘You need to do this, you need to change this.’ He sees the whole picture. That’s where he’s helped me, the older I’ve gotten.”
On the primary influence of her caddie, Dan Chapman: “His personality. I can be kind of negative. I’m pretty serious when I’m on the course. And he is ultra-positive. His personality kind of keeps me balanced out there. And he’s good with course management.”
On the state of her game after three Top 10 finishes in her last four events: “I feel like I’m playing great. It all comes down to putting. I think I’m hitting it better than I have in a long time. And when I’m hitting it good, the rest falls into place.”
On the selection of Michelle Wie, the No. 82 player in the world rankings, as a U.S. captain’s choice over higher-ranked options: “Meg took some heat for the Michelle Wie decision, but I love it. This is the biggest stage a lot of us ever play on. A lot of us don’t know how to handle that setting. Michelle Wie has played on the big stage her whole career. When she gets into that setting, she thrives.”
On the likelihood of being paired with Piller in a match: “I told Meg, ‘We’re too good of friends. We would try hard for each other, maybe too hard.’ You don’t want to let one of your best friends down. We’ll see.”