STEPHEN HAWKINS,AP Sports Writer
IRVING, Texas (AP) — Angela Stanford gets to experience a first in her 13 seasons on the LPGA Tour. She gets to stay at home and sleep in her own bed during a tournament.
“It’s great to be home. I’m glad the LPGA is here. You know, I spend most of my time all year telling people how great it is here, so it’s nice to have the whole gang here,” said Stanford, who lives in nearby Fort Worth and went to school at TCU. “It was a little odd getting off the airplane from Hawaii … like the whole tour was following me.”
The inaugural North Texas LPGA Shootout starts Thursday at Las Colinas Country Club. It is North Texas’ first-full field event in the area since the 1991 U.S. Women’s Open . The area hasn’t been an annual tour stop since 1982.
Las Colinas isn’t far from the TPC Four Seasons course where the PGA Tour will be next month. Part of the PGA Tour’s two-step through Texas includes a trip to Colonial, the site of that U.S. Women’s Open and where Annika Sorenstam teed off with the men 10 years ago.
“I know they see the best men players in the world twice a year here in the Metroplex, and now you’re going to get to see the best female players in the world,” Stanford said. “I’ve always said this area was missing the boat not having an LPGA Tour here, so it’s about time.”
There is a full field of 144 players, 140 pros along with four amateurs — two college players and two high school players who earned spots in qualifying rounds. The top nine players in the world are in Texas, along with the top 14 on the LPGA Tour money list.
Top-ranked Inbee Park, the 24-year-old South Korean, has won twice on the LPGA Tour this year, including a major at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. She tied for fourth in Hawaii last week.
“I’m still not used to it,” Park said of being No. 1. “I’m very happy with the way I played last week with the pressure. … I try not to think about it too much, but it’s in my mind for sure.”
Stacy Lewis has a chance to regain the No. 1 spot again with top-five finish in her home state. The 28-year-old Lewis, who went to school in Arkansas but is from The Woodlands, Texas, was the 2012 LPGA Player of the Year and was on top of the rankings for four weeks this season before Park went to the top. Lewis has won twice and has five top-10 finishes this year.
“It’s something that it’s cool to be No. 1 and nice to get to that point, but it’s not something I think about all the time,” Lewis said. “It’s a result of good play, of winning tournaments. Rankings do matter, but it’s not something you think about every hole or shot.”
Suzann Pettersen beat Lizette Salas with a par on the first hole of a playoff last weekend in Hawaii. Salas closed with a tournament-record 62, two weeks after a finishing 79 at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
That was Pettersen’s 11th LPGA Tour victory, which included winning consecutive LPGA Tour tournaments last October in Asia. She also won at Ladies European Tour event in China this year, and tied for third at the Kraft Nabisco.
“I feel like I’ve played fairly good since the Asia last year. I teed it up in 10 events and won four, so pretty happy with that stat,” Pettersen said. “I feel like I have a game to win on pretty much every course that we have. If I just can manage to stay on top of my game and prepare the way I feel like I should prepare and get enough rest, I feel like I should be in contention pretty much every time I tee it up.”
Stanford isn’t the only LPGA player getting to stay at home this week. Brittany Lang is from McKinney, and Gerina Piller has a place in Plano with her husband, Martin, a player on the Web.com Tour who is in Georgia this week while she is at home.
Lang talked about some of the simple tasks made easier just being at home.
“Just getting to do my laundry at my house. Normally you’re doing it somewhere or getting it done. It’s just something as simple as that,” Lang said. “It’s going to great to have family and friends here. They don’t have to travel to see the LPGA play, and I think they’re going to have a really, really fun week.”