Angela Stanford’s major streak might end at 98 after she failed to qualify for U.S. Women’s Open, USGA denies special exemption

Angela Stanford’s Road to 100 consecutive majors hasn’t yet reached a dead end, but time is running out. On Tuesday, the 46-year-old competed in a U.S. Women’s Open qualifier at Soboba Springs Golf Course in San Jacinto, California, and failed to advance after rounds of 74-74 left her 4 over. Taiwan’s Hsin Yu Lu (4 under) and Mariel Galdiano (2 under) earned spots in the championship, which will be held May 30-June 2 at Lancaster (Pa.) Country Club.

Last week, Stanford competed in her 98th consecutive major at the Chevron Championship, where she played on a sponsor exemption. The 2018 Evian champion needed two more starts to join Jack Nicklaus as the only golfers to reach 100 consecutive majors. Nicklaus owns the record with 146 consecutive major starts (1962 Masters Tournament through 1998 U.S. Open). Adam Scott made his 90th consecutive major start earlier this month at the Masters.

Stanford hoped to receive a special exemption for the U.S. Women’s Open but was informed before the qualifier the USGA had denied her request.

She took to Instagram after the qualifier to express her thanks.

“While a handful of people did not believe the road to 100 was a worthy pursuit, I feel like most did,” Stanford wrote. “Thank you to the LPGA media, golf media, the fans, Chevron, and I believe KPMG and PGA of America would’ve embraced 100.

“As I was standing on my 36th hole today, I was overcome with pride. I haven’t been that proud of myself in a long time. My body held up, thank you Dan. My game held up, thank you Todd. My caddie help up, thank you John.

“Sometimes we don’t get the results we want in this game, but I went after it. I put myself out there and went for a goal that was really hard.”

Volunteers Of America Classic
Volunteers Of America Classic

Angela Stanford poses with the trophy after winning the Volunteers of America Classic at the Old American Golf Club on December 6, 2020 in The Colony, Texas. (Photo: Chuck Burton/Getty Images)

Stanford, who is in the field this week at the JM Eagle LA Championship, has two other ways to gain entry to the Women’s Open: win an LPGA event or climb into the top 75 in the Rolex Rankings before May 27. Stanford, a seven-time winner on tour, currently ranks 398th and joked that at least Nelly Korda, winner of the last four LPGA starts, isn’t in the field this wek at Wilshire Country Club.

The USGA provided the following statement on the decision not to award a special exemption:

Unlike most other events, our field is quite literally, “open.” We allocate roughly 50 percent of our field to open qualifying, which provides an opportunity for any player (not exempt) to earn their way into the championship. We rarely offer special exemptions, as they remove “open” spots from the field, that thousands are competing to earn.

We don’t have “sponsor invites” nor do we think about our exemptions as media stories and/or “local favorites.” Rather, when we do extend a special exemption, we do it purely based on a player’s extraordinary performances over the years, especially in USGA championships, additional major championships, time spent as World No. 1, Tour wins, as well as recent performances/ranking. 

We wish Angela the best of luck over the coming weeks as she tries to earn a place in the field and hope to see her in Lancaster and in USGA championships for many years to come.

Stanford’s streak started at the 2002 McDonald’s LPGA Championship and, given how few players on the LPGA compete past the age of 40, let alone stay healthy enough to sustain such a stretch, many believe another opportunity like this might not come around again in the women’s game.

“A friend of mine send me a text saying my mom would have been proud,” Stanford wrote. “She would have. She taught me to go for the tough things in life. She loved the majors. They have always been the toughest.

“Thank you to my family and friends who have sacrificed so much for me. I’ve been told I should smile more on course. I’m going to try that the rest of the year. Play some of my favorites and call it a career on this tour. #Roadto100 #Exit98.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek