Angela Stanford’s first major championship brought more than a large trophy, a large paycheck and an extra-large jolt of confidence going forward.
It bolstered her hopes for a larger Solheim Cup future.
Stanford, 40, wondered if her Solheim Cup days were over when she failed to make the American team going to Iowa last year, but Sunday’s victory at the Evian Championship vaults her into the picture to make the team going to Scotland next year.
More than that, it bolsters her burning ambition to one day lead the U.S. Solheim Cup team as its captain.
“When you’ve played in some Solheim Cups and you miss one, it hurts,” Stanford told GolfChannel.com. “They’re very special.
“Hopefully, next year, I’m playing well enough to help the team win. I would like to play in another one, and, yes, I would like to be a captain someday.”
It was fitting Evian officials wrapped Stanford in the American flag during the trophy presentation Sunday in France. She loves team golf and playing for her country, but before winning there she wondered about more than her prospects for making another U.S. team.
She wondered about her qualifications to be captain.
“I always heard winning a major was one of the requirements,” said Stanford, a six-time LPGA winner “I don’t know if that’s true or not.”
While it’s not a requirement, LPGA officials acknowledge it’s a consideration.
There have been 11 different American captains in Solheim Cup history, and Rosie Jones is the only one who didn’t have a major on her resume, though she did have 13 LPGA titles.
So Stanford’s victory Sunday in France opens a door. She needed it because her Solheim Cup record isn’t the most stellar. She’s 4-13-3 in the matches, but the record almost doesn’t matter now with her major. Plus, Stanford created a Solheim Cup memory that trumps her playing record. She prevailed in one of the most monumental singles matches in Solheim Cup history. She took down Suzann Pettersen in the historic American comeback in Germany three years ago. That’s the year Pettersen, the undisputed European leader, was embroiled in controversy over American Alison Lee’s mistake scooping up a putt that wasn’t conceded. Pettersen was the heart and soul of the European team that appeared to be rolling toward a third consecutive team title that year.
Stanford beat Pettersen 2-and-1 during the epic American comeback.
“That really changed how I felt about how I performed on the Solheim stage,” Stanford said. “I was really hoping to make last year’s team, to ride that momentum. Hopefully, I will get another chance.”
Stanford has the memory of her role in that comeback to draw upon forever. She arrived on the first tee to play Pettersen with the same attitude she took to Evian on Sunday. Her record didn’t matter; she was going to fight to the end.
“I came out that morning in Germany with the attitude that, 'I’m sick of losing. I’m sick of being pushed around. I’m sick of coming up on the short end,'” Stanford said. “I showed up with the attitude, 'This isn’t going to happen to me again. I’m not going to be the reason we don’t pull this off.’
“I didn’t like what happened to Alison, and I really wanted to help the team.”
Juli Inkster will captain the American team for an unprecedented third time in Scotland next year. When Inkster’s reign ends, Stanford’s name will move up the short list of future candidates.
It’s a list that should include Dottie Pepper, Pat Hurst and Sherri Steinhauer, though Pepper’s history with today’s players and her heavy criticism of the Americans in the past makes her future selection highly doubtful, if she even wanted the job.
After that, the most relevant choices are Cristie Kerr and now Stanford. Like Stanford, Kerr is 40 and still very much focused on playing.
“I probably have one of the rougher Solheim Cup records in history, but personally I never looked at it like that,” Stanford said. “I look at our team record. I’ve been on three winning teams and three losing teams. I want to make it on another team and make that a winning record.”
Stanford’s confidence after winning Evian and her desire to win another Solheim Cup should make for potent fuel to drive her over the next year.