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Faltering finish doesn't shake Stanford; Veteran in hunt for first major

After 10 years on the LPGA Tour and playing in 39 majors, it takes a lot more than a bogey on the 18th hole to faze Angela Stanford.

The veteran shot a bogey five on the last hole of her second round at the Wegmans LPGA Championship but kept her cool on what was a frustrating day. Her even-par round kept her at 4 under for the championship, good for ninth place heading into today's third round at Locust Hill Country Club.

"It's good going into the weekend," said a composed Stanford. "I don't think I've ever started a major weekend in the top 10."

Earlier in the week, Stanford, No. 23 in the world rankings, was able to survive a canceled flight and a hectic day of traveling to make sure that she got into Rochester on time for her first practice round. The Fort Worth native and TCU graduate planned on flying from the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport to Chicago and then catching a connecting flight to Rochester on Monday. Stanford learned that her flight to Chicago was canceled that morning and she was forced to rush to the airport for an earlier flight to St. Louis that would then connect her to Chicago. With only a two-hour warning, Stanford was able to get to the airport from her house and board her recently booked flight. "We didn't hit any traffic," Stanford said. "It was weird."

After arriving in Rochester, Stanford was relieved not only to be on time, but to see that her two golf bags had made the journey with her.

The episode wasn't enough to derail the five-time LPGA Tour winner. She came out red hot in her first round with five birdies and a bogey.

Stanford brushed aside the thought of her hectic day of travel affecting her performance this weekend and saw the lighter side to her situation.

"Actually I thought it was good luck," she said, "No luggage lost, I was shocked."

But on Friday, it was Stanford's driver that was giving her issues.

Stanford started the day fine off the tee but said she hit a funk in the eighth tee box, where she pulled her first drive of the day. Stanford would go on to birdie the par-5 hole, but the struggle with her driver continued. She finished the day hitting 6 of 14 fairways, after getting eight in her first round.

"I'm all over the lot," Stanford said of her second round. "I got to go figure out how to hit it straight again. If it's not one thing it's another. I'm lucky to shoot even today. As low as it could have been yesterday, it was as high as it could have been today."

Stanford reached 6 under at one point in her round, but three bogeys on the back nine hurt her.

"She has a game plan this week," said Stanford's caddie, Brian Dilley. "She's trying to get the ball in the right part of the green. She is doing a good job of that, but just missed a few fairways coming in."

The three-time Solheim Cup competitor has four top 10 finishes this year. She is still seeking her first major championship after finishing in a tie for third at the Kraft Nabisco earlier this year.

Both Stanford and Dilley agreed that their approach to this week's event is no different than any other tournament, but did acknowledge the importance of Stanford's experience. Dilley said that experience has its advantages, "especially for people that have been out here for a while and have played the courses before. They are definitely more disciplined and they know when to be more aggressive and when not to be too aggressive."

As for Stanford, she is patiently waiting for her breakthrough after finishing in the top 10 of a major six times. She said that she thinks winning a major is only getting harder as time goes by, but she is playfully optimistic of her future.

"I'm getting old, I'm 33," she said with a grin. "It's like fine wine, it's only going to get better. It's got to get better."

e-mail: rmarfurt@buffnews.com