Stanford Outright Leader in Tennessee

By Associated PressMay 5, 2006, 4:00 pm
04 Franklin American Mortgage Champ.FRANKLIN, Tenn. -- Angela Stanford used strong iron play to take a one-stroke lead in the Franklin American Mortgage Championship, shooting a 5-under 67 on Friday on the Vanderbilt Legends Club's Ironhorse Course.
Stanford, who shared the lead with Beth Bader after the first round, had five birdies and an eagle in the second round, but made two bogeys while pressing too hard on the greens for some more birdies.
Sophie Gustafson
Sophie Gustafson had nine birdies and no bogeys Friday.
'Sometimes when I really want to make a birdie, I hit it a little bit harder than I should,' Stanford said. 'I just completely got out of the moment and really wanted to make that last one. I really wanted to go to 14 and just hit the first putt way too hard.'
Stanford, who led wire-to-wire in her lone tour victory in 2003 at the ShopRite LPGA Classic, has strung together consecutive rounds in the 60s for the first time this season for a 12-under 132 total.
Patricia Meunier-Lebouc (66) was 11 under, and Sophie Gustafson, who carded a career-low 63, was 10 under. Karrie Webb (68), Karin Sjodin (64) and Wendy Ward (66) were tied at 135, Cristie Kerr (69) was among four tied at 136, and Lorena Ochoa (71) and Grace Park (72) were six strokes back.
Stanford may be best remembered for sinking a long birdie putt on the final hole of regulation in the 2003 U.S. Women's Open, then losing to Hilary Lunke on the 18th playoff hole.
She said that performance carried her through 2003 and drove up her own expectations.
'I haven't done much since. Nobody else will say that but me. Maybe they will. But I really haven't. I think I've put a lot of added pressure on myself,' Stanford said.
Stanford did record two top 10s in 2004 and had a tie for third in 2005. Then she started working on a swing change that had her unsure just what yardage she was hitting her clubs, hitting over greens in Atlanta last month before she started seeing results last week.
Starting five strokes back of Meunier-Lebouc, Stanford had to deal with gusty wind after the morning groups played through a soft rain.
Stanford showed just how dialed in her swing is by hitting irons to 3 feet to set up five birdies, and she set up a two-putt for eagle on the par-5, 470-yard seventh after hitting a 7-wood 20 feet past the flag.
Her bogeys came when she three-putted from 15 feet on the par-4 17th and on the par-4 ninth -- her last hole -- with a two-putt after hitting a 9-iron to 15 feet.
'Out here, you have to be, or you're going to get lapped. You've got Karrie Webb and Lorena just to name a few that are just on fire this year, so you can't afford to sit on a lead,' Stanford said.
Meunier-Lebouc and Gustafson were grouped together and fed off each other's aggressiveness.
'It was like easy. We make birdies everywhere,' Meunier-Lebouc said. 'That doesn't happen very often, though. It was fun. You have to enjoy every moment because it (does) not happen every day.'
Meunier-Lebouc had a bogey-free round with six birdies thanks to her chipping. She holed a chip from 27 feet for birdie on the par-4, 396-yard sixth and set up birdies on two par 5s, Nos. 7 and 18, by chipping to 9 and 3 feet.
The key to Gustafson's magnificent round with nine birdies and no bogeys apparently was giving away the putter she blamed for a 71 in the first round to an autograph seeker.
'The other one was absolutely rubbish,' Gustafson said.
Switching back made all the difference as Gustafson rolled in three 18-footers and a 30-footer for birdie. She also two-putted from 45 feet for birdie on No. 7.
Speaking of Lunke, she missed the even-par cut at 12 over, her sixth this year. ... Meunier-Lebouc chose to play here instead of Las Vegas because of an e-mail from the town mayor. She and her husband had stayed in Mayor Tom Miller's home in her last visit here in 2002 when this tournament had a different name and sponsor. ... How much might Gustafson's old putter be worth? 'Well, I don't know. You can see if you can find it on eBay,' she said.
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.