Angela Stanford’s eyes welled with tears when her flight touched down at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in her return from winning the Evian Championship.
When she lands from the south, as she did Monday, she always looks for the towering grain elevators in her Saginaw hometown. She also always looks for downtown Fort Worth’s skyline.
She got teary with the replica of the Evian Championship trophy in her carry-on in the luggage bin above her seat, knowing she wasn’t bringing it home just for her.
But for her mother, Nan, who’s battling a second bout with breast cancer.
For her father, Steve, who got her started in the game.
For other family and friends.
For Shady Oaks, the club Ben Hogan made famous, where she is a member.
And for TCU, her alma mater.
She realized how empty she felt in so many returns from major championships.
She’s 40 now.
She won in her 76th try in a major.
For so long, Stanford believed she had what it took to win a major, but that only made the string of disappointments harder.
“So I remembered what it felt like coming home from so many disappointments, but not this time,” Stanford said. “This time I got to bring something home for everyone to see.”
When Stanford got off the plane, her parents were among a group of family and friends waiting to greet her. So was her TCU coach, Angie Larkin, who brought along the Horned Frogs mascot, Superfrog.
Tour pros Kristy McPherson, Dori Carter, Kendall Dye and Emory University coach and former tour pro Katie Futcher were all in Fort Worth helping Stanford celebrate.
“It was pretty cool,” Stanford said. “Of course, I asked them all if they wanted to see the trophy.”
She pulled it out of her carry-on and never put it back.
“It’s a heavy trophy, but I told them I’m carrying this everywhere,” Stanford said.
There was a celebration dinner with family and friends Monday night, and another celebration with friends on Tuesday.
“I think it’s just the start of many celebrations with more friends to see,” Stanford said.
Stanford went to work with a new swing coach about a year ago, Todd Kolb, from Sioux Falls, S.D. In her flight home, she thought about how grateful she was for all the help poured into her game, not just the good work Kolb is doing, but the foundation important figures in her life helped to lay. She thought about the lessons and wisdom Amy Fox, Mike Wright and Joe Hallett passed along.
“I’m still using things I learned from my first instructor,” Stanford said. “Amy Fox is a huge reason I’m playing on tour. Mike Wright is a huge reason why I’ve won on tour. Joe Hallett helped me navigate through a tough time in my career.
“They were all important to my winning Sunday. They all gave me building blocks, and they’ve all helped lay the foundation to what I’m learning now from Todd.”
Stanford said being able to share her gratefulness made her return home special.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” she said. “It’s been everything you could imagine it would be.”