The label “best player without a major championship” often gets passed around in men’s golf, a dubious honorific to say the least. Just ask Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood how much fun it is to be considered worthy of such consideration. The title is far less commonly used in the women’s game, although when it is trotted out, Angela Stanford often is among those mentioned. Until Sunday, that is.
With her one-stroke victory at the Evian Championship, Stanford, who turns 41 in November, got her elusive major title. It came after 18 years playing on the LPGA Tour, winning five times and racking up 94 top-10 finishes in 436th career starts.
Moreover, Evian was Stanford’s 76th all-time start in a major, which brings us to another milestone she likely achieved on Sunday, and one we pretty sure she’ll be OK living with. It is believed that Stanford now holds the mark for the most major appearances before finally winning her first big one.
We say believed because the LPGA doesn’t keep an on-going tally on the statistic. In doing our own research, however, we struggled to find any other female close to Stanford’s mark.
Indeed, the next closest streak we came up with was Catriona Matthew, who was 39 when she played in the 2009 Women’s British Open and made it her first major victory in her 52nd career major appearance. That’s a full four years’ worth of fewer majors (adjusting for five in a season) than Stanford had to wait.
Other notable streaks we found were Beth Daniel needing 43 major starts until winning the 1990 LPGA Championship and Betsy King needing 32 before winning at the 1997 Dinah Shore. (Earlier this season, Pernilla Lindberg won her first major title at the ANA Inspiration in her 32nd career major start.)
Stanford’s mark isn’t just the most we found in the women’s game, but the best in the men’s as well. When Sergio Garcia won the 2017 Masters, it was his 74th major championship start (including appearances as an amateur), which was believed to be a record. Garcia bested Tom Kite, who won the 1992 U.S. Open in his 73rd major start.