Gladstone, N.J.--This is not the way Angela Stanford would have wanted to go out, but it was the way every golfer could hope to go out of a match play tournament (at least one that they didn’t win).
It was a rough ending for Angela Stanford in her semifinal against Cristie Kerr at the LPGA Sybase Match Play Championship. Stanford, the runnerup at this event last year, looked like she was cruising to another place in the final at Hamilton Farm Golf Club. She was 2 up with four to play. Then she lost No. 15 to a birdie from Kerr.
On the par-4 17, Kerr, down 1 and staring at elimination, put her second shot within four feet. Stanford also hit the green, but missed her 12-foot birdie putt. Kerr made hers and they went to the par-5 18th all square.
Each was in good position after two shots. Kerr hit a solid third, with the ball landing near the pin, but it rolled off a ridge and trickled into the rough. Stanford, evidently not wanting that to happen to her, kept her short-iron third shot above the pin—and in the rough over the green.
Kerr chipped within four feet again. Stanford, with a poor lie, skulled it over the green into more rough. She chipped up and nearly sank her shot for a 5. The ball hit the flagstick and bounced away. Kerr made her par putt, and pumped her fist as she clinched the win.
In a classy exit of which the LPGA can be proud, Stanford didn’t pout or brood. She instantly signed golf balls for volunteers near the green. Then, seconds after the heartbreaking loss, she stopped and signed dozens of autographs for spectators, being courteous to each fan. As she walked toward the clubhouse, fans applauded.
The 3:10 final between Suzann Pettersen and Kerr matches the third and fourth-ranked players, respectively, in the Rolex Women's World Golf Ranking