Stanford leads by 3 strokes

JOHN HERBERT -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 10:19 AM ET

Back home in the little city of Saginaw, Texas, Angela Stanford's parents were probably out on the boat yesterday while she was taking on Canada all by herself at the London Hunt and Country Club in the CN Canadian Women's Open.

The smiling Texan, who has a personality to match Lorie Kane, Canada's first lady of the fairways, followed a first-round course record-tying round of 64 with a second-round 70 yesterday to retain the lead after two days of the $1.7-million US championship, which resumes this morning.

Stanford is three shots clear of 29-year-old American Cristie Kerr and 20-year-old South Korean Jee Young Lee, who also shot 70. Stanford's 134 total for 36 holes is 10 under par.

Lurking in fourth place and very much in contention is Lorie Kane, who fired a 70 after an opening round of 68, leaving her four shots out of the lead with 138. Pat Hurst and Vicki Goetze-Ackerman are tied for fifth at 140, followed by defending champion Meena Lee at 141, seven shots behind the leader.

Natalie Gulbis, who had galleries almost as large as Kane, shot her second straight 73 and is tied for 39th.

Kane tees off today in the second-last pairing at 1:12 p.m. with Kerr, while Lee and Stanford are in the final group at 1:20.

Kane, of Charlottetown, wants desperately to become the first Canadian since Jocelyn Bourassa in 1973 to win the national open and was clearly the darling of the huge crowd of 13,500, a record for the second day in a row.

As many as 2,000 followed Kane during the round, especially on the final holes leading to the 18th green.

Stanford had one friend in her gallery, but those who followed were extremely polite.

The Texan, who grew up playing in the wind and on fast, hard greens, said she could understand why London -- and Canada -- would cheer wildly for Kane and would consider her the villain if the two find themselves in a Texas-style shootout in the final round tomorrow.

"You know, I don't blame them," Stanford said. "I don't blame them at all. We're in Canada and Lorie has been great for Canadian golf, I'm sure. I love the fact they are out here supporting women's golf. When we're in the States or if we were in Texas, they would be cheering just as loud for me, so I don't have any problems with that at all.''

While many players came to London this year because Kane relentlessly lobbied them as a way of showing her support for title sponsor, Canadian National Railway, who saved the tournament last November, Stanford always planned to attend.

With one LPGA title -- the ShopRite in 200 * -- she has her sights set on winning this week, even if it means ruining a possible storybook ending for Kane.

Asked who was nicer -- she or Kane -- the smooth-talking Texan smiled and replied: "Let's see -- me.''

The 29-year-old Stanford said back home in Saginaw, a city of about 15,000, she figures most people are following her success in London on the LPGA website. After she shot 64 on opening day, she phoned home and talked to her excited mother. Her dad, she said, was "out on the boat.'' She figured her dad, the city manager, would be out again yesterday.

Stanford jumped out of the blocks yesterday with birdies on her first two holes -- the 10th and 11th -- to go 10 under par.

"Really, I didn't look at the scoreboard much today," she said, figuring the crowd noise from the galleries following Kane would tell her what was happening hole-to-hole.

Heading into today's third round, Stanford said, it's great to hold a three-stroke lead, but she's thinking about making more birdies, not trying to sit on the lead.

"It's never enough," she said. "You can give me 10 shots right now and it wouldn't be enough. I think I just really have to play my own game and really just try to keep making birdies. It's never enough out here.''

While Kane can picture the finish line and winning, she never let her mind wander as she played yesterday.

"Way too early in the game for that," she said. "I'm sticking with the process. And the process is the shot that I've got to hit right now, accept where it is and then carry on for the next one. There's still such a long way to go in this event that I'm not going to let anybody get me ahead of myself."

Normally the most accommodating of players, Kane yesterday gave a short rundown on her game in the media centre, then departed after only three questions to spend time working on her game at the range.

She wasn't pleased with her final nine yesterday, especially after hitting her second shot on the par-four 18th from about 150 yards into a bunker and finishing with a bogey.

"The back nine wasn't probably the way I would have liked to finish. I hit some good golf shots, don't get me wrong, but I didn't capitalize on some chances I had. I didn't seem to read the greens on the back side as well as . . . yesterday."

It took a score of five-over-par 149 to make the cut. Eighty-three players will play on the weekend, including six Canadians. One is former Londoner Jessica Shepley, who shot 75-74 for 149.

Among the casualties were Brandie Burton, winner of the du Maurier Classic here in 1993, Julieta Granada, Jennifer Rosales, Dawn Coe-Jones and Becky Morgan, while Michelle McGann and A.J. Eathorne withdrew before yesterday's round due to injuries.


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