Angela Stanford put her hand over her mouth in absolute disbelief. At nearly 41, she won The Evian Championship for her first major title.
Some 15 years after she came up short against Hillary Lunke in a playoff at the US Women's Open at Pumpkin Ridge, she had finally done it. The Texan did it nearly seven years since her last win at the 2012 HSBC Women's Champions, and her biggest professional moment comes while her mom and best friend battles a returning, aggressive cancer.
Golf -- and life -- is a funny game.
"I have no idea what just happened," Stanford said, crying in her winner's TV interview. "I'm grateful. And so happy for everybody at home, everybody that's all cheered for me and never gave up on me. I mean, God is funny. He catches you off guard just when you think that maybe you're done. It's amazing. I mean, I don't think -- I couldn't have asked for it any other way. It's not my plan, so it's pretty cool."
Stanford was standing behind the 18th green as 54-hole leader Amy Olson came up the last. Olson needed a par to win her first LPGA title, looking to make that breakthrough win a major. However, Olson found trouble left off the tee, and her recovery didn't escape the thick stuff. Her third landed on the green but well away from the hole. Needing to two-putt for a playoff with Stanford, Olson rocketed her first putt 7 feet by the hole. She missed the comebacker to make a shocking 6 and place the trophy in Stanford's hands.
The TCU product did her part, too, shooting 3-under 68 on Sunday. Stanford hit a slinging-draw 7-wood for her second shot in the par-5 15th, setting up a 7-foot eagle that sent her into a share of the lead at 13 under par. However, after making a 3 on a par 5, Stanford made a 5 on a par 3 on the 16th, handing back what she had earned.
The doubt, the times she came up short -- the bad stuff -- it all crept in.
"I remember my first time being in contention was in 2003 at the Open. I was in a playoff," she said. "I didn't know at the time how close I was because it was only my third year and I had know idea what I was doing, to be perfectly honest.
"As the years go on and you have all the near misses you think, Wow, am I ever going to get that close again? I had that moment on 16 tee today. OK, you know, here you are again. This is as close as you've been in I don't know how long. So now what? We saw what happened."
Needing to rally, and fighting the feeling she was going to throw up, Stanford convinced herself to finish it out on her terms.
"I know me very well and I did a bunch of stupid stuff, but deep down I'm a fighter, I'm a grinder, and I've always been that," she said. "I just kept telling myself, You just got to be who you are. And maybe you're not good at certain things, but you got to be who you are right now and you got to just fight."
She mustered an impressive and important birdie-par finish that left her on 12-under 272 but also needing Olson to slide back to her to have a chance. Even as Olson's first putt went well past the hole, Stanford wouldn't consider the possibility of a three-putt.
"I just wouldn't let myself go there because I was already crying anyway," she said.
And then, astoundingly, it happened.
Stanford said there's no way she would have figured at the start of the day that today would have been the day. She had resigned herself to the idea of walking away without a major title, that her window had closed. That she had now done it, she wasn't sure what it all meant to her.
"For the longest time I thought I was a major winner," Stanford said. "I thought I was good enough. Not getting it doubt starts to creeping in, to say the least. I need to process it."
After that processing and absorbing, Stanford wants to do a bit of a victory lap -- for her, yes, but also for all the people who believed this day would come and would have loved her anyway if it didn't.
"What did they do to the Stanley Cup this year? It went everywhere," Stanford said. "So this thing may go everywhere with me for a while. I'm going to stare at it for a long time. And because of those people that I was telling you about. I want them to enjoy it too."