Texan takes early lead

Angela Stanford of Texas tees off at the London Hunt and Country Club course as she blitzes her way...

Angela Stanford of Texas tees off at the London Hunt and Country Club course as she blitzes her way to an eight-under 64 in the first round of the CN Canadian Women's Open yesterday. (London Free Press/Mike Hensen)

JOHN HERBERT -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:15 AM ET

It wasn't until Angela Stanford looked up at the leaderboard on the 15th green that she realized something special was happening yesterday in the first round of the CN Canadian Women's Open at the London Hunt and Country Club.

"When I saw that scoreboard and it said '8' and I was like 'I'm eight under? Is that me?' All day, even when I made the turn at five-under, I just told myself, 'Don't do anything different. Don't sit on it. Don't get conservative -- it's only Thursday.' "

The Texan brought it home in 64, tying the course record and giving her the first-round lead in the 72-hole championship.

Stanford said she felt "unconscious" as she ripped apart the 6,611-yard London course to take a three-stroke lead into today's second round over American Cristie Kerr, 20-year-old South Korean Jee Young Lee and American Vickie Goetze-Ackerman, who fired 67s. Lorie Kane, Il My Chung of South Korea and defending champion Meena Lee, also of South Korea, carded 68s.

Among notable players, Se Ri Pak shot 70, while Natalie Gulbis and Dawn Coe-Jones shot 73s.

It was also a special day for the Hunt Club and organizers of the championship as a first-day record crowd of 12,500 walked the course.

The Hunt course was easy game yesterday for many in the 156-player field --- 46 broke or bettered par -- as weather and course conditions were just perfect.

The only other players to shoot 64 at the Hunt Club are Michelle McGann and Coe- Jones, who did it on the opening day of the du Maurier Classic in 1993. Since then, the course has been lengthened and redesigned by U.S. architect Rees Jones.

Stanford is the 13th player in the history of the national championship to shoot a 64 -- the lowest score ever recorded dating back to 1973.

While the huge galleries -- several top players, including Kerr, said they had never seen so many spectators at an LPGA event in Canada on a Thursday -- were following the biggest names, such as Kane, Pak and Gulbis, Stanford was quietly attacking the course with a birdie barrage.

She had eight birdies in the first 14 holes with no bogeys.

The birdies came early and often. She sank a 10-footer for a birdie on the second hole to start her roll. Then she made birdies on the third, fourth, seventh and ninth and made the front nine turn at 31 -- five under.

She made three more birdies on the back nine at the 12th, 13th and 14th holes.

It was a combination of things, she said. Putting was the main reason, but so was a great attitude on how to play the Hunt course with patience.

"I was pretty much unconscious out there," she said. "I had all the good breaks and got all the good bounces.

"It's just one of those days where everything goes your way. And you just have to enjoy it in this game because it doesn't happen every day.

"I know tomorrow is going to be harder because even par is going to look terrible compared to this."

Stanford, who lives in Saginaw, Tex., has just one victory since joining the LPGA Tour in 2001 after graduating from Texas Christian University where she majored in speech communication.

She had various theories yesterday about her unbelievable round. She started putting well at the British Open and it carried over to London. She always seems to play well in Canada, finishing tied for third last year in Halifax.

She reminded herself all day yesterday to be aggressive.

"I think I'm better off taking risks," she said.

She said it is easy to get excited in London because the fans have embraced the tournament.

Stanford enjoyed her moment yesterday but wasn't looking too far down the road. Not with Kane, Kerr, Young Lee, Meena Lee only three or four shots behind.

The 29-year-old Kerr and the rejuvenated Kane, who has been playing well in recent weeks and always seems to be a threat at home, were pleased to be four-under and in contention.

Kane said she was not surprised to see Stanford shoot 64.

"Angela has been up and down through the year but she can putt," Kane said. "She has a good iron game. These greens are huge and they are very interesting to read. So I'm impressed. I'd like to see how many putts she had."

Canadian A. J. Eathorne withdrew with a wrist injury after shooting an 84.


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