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For Texan Angela Stanford the hotter, the better.
So the surging LPGA pro should feel right at home this week at Highland Meadows Golf Club.
With temperatures reaching the low 90s and heat advisories expected once again during the first two days of the Marathon Classic, Stanford hopes the hot and muggy conditions boost her game.
“It’s actually better hotter than colder for me,” Stanford said. “Your body loosens up faster. The ball goes a touch farther and compresses a little more.”
A resident of Fort Worth, Texas, Stanford grew up playing golf in stifling conditions.
“So yes, it’s better hotter,” she said.
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Stanford finished second at the event in Sylvania last year. Stanford shot a sizzling 5-under-par 66 in the final round and finished the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic at 13-under par. But Stanford placed second behind South Korea’s So Yeon Ryu, who topped the field at 20-under par.
“I like this course,” Stanford said. “I like that you have to hit it both directions. You have to move the ball and hit good golf shots, and you’re rewarded for good golf shots. I just like the look of it.”
Stanford finished second at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic at the last tour stop, losing in a three-hole playoff to Hee Young Park on Sunday. The previous week Stanford finished fourth at the U.S. Women’s Open.
“I feel good about things. I was making some putts last week and rolling it good,” Stanford said. “And the greens look great this week, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Stanford, who played golf while attending Texas Christian, gained at least one fan on Wednesday. Leon Garoufalis was part of Stanford’s group in the Fathead Celebrity Pro-Am.
“She was terrific,” Garoufalis said. “She was helpful and a lot of fun. She was really pleasant to be with.”
Garoufalis, who is president and chief operating officer of a composite materials company, said Stanford appeared to playing at the top of her game.
“She played extremely well,” he said. “She made a lot of putts. She made a nice chip in. I think she is playing really well. She showed it today. She drove the ball extremely well and putted great. She should do pretty well.”
Stanford said she enjoys playing in the pro ams.
“You get to meet some nice people, and you get the opportunity to thank the sponsors of the event,” Stanford said. “It’s a good day to see the course.”
Stanford had four top-10 finishes this year and has earned $501,756 on the tour, which is 10th on the official money list. Stanford is ranked No. 16 in the Rolex World Rankings.
Stanford, 35, entered the season with more than $7.8 million in career earnings.
She is part of a popular pairing for the first round of the Marathon Classic today.
Stanford is paired with Inbee Park and Paula Creamer.
Park is the No. 1 player in the World Rankings and has won six times this season. Creamer, known as the Pink Panther, is a local favorite because of her affiliation with Owens Corning. Creamer won the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic in 2008.
The trio tees off at 1:25 p.m. on hole No. 10 to open the first round.
Last season, Stanford made the cut in 23 of 26 events. She had six top-10 finishes and five top-five finishes. She won the HSBC Women’s Champions event, which was her fifth-career victory.
Stanford had a hot start last year at Highland Meadows with a 66 and matched it in the final round with another 5-under par. She recorded six birdies and one bogey during her final round.
Stanford said she expects low scores from the entire field this week.
“This time of year it seems like everybody has probably found their groove, and I think the scores are going to be low this week,” she said. “I think I’ll need to be consistently good every day.”
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