Sheehan, Patty

Sheehan, Patty
▪ 1994

      The day after Patty Sheehan qualified for the Hall of Fame of women's golf, she woke up to play a practice round at 7 AM. At age 36, she said, "There's a lot of things I still want to do. I'm too young to just sit down and be a Hall of Famer."

      Sheehan became the 13th member of the Ladies' Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Hall of Fame on Nov. 13, 1993, after qualifying with her 30th tour victory on March 21 with a tournament record of 17 under par at the Standard Register Ping in Phoenix, Ariz. With at least six-figure earnings in all of her full seasons, she held records of 13 years of more than $100,000 and 11 with at least $200,000. Her only year without a tour victory was 1987.

      Patricia Leslie Sheehan was born Oct. 27, 1956, in Middlebury, Vt. Her father coached football running backs, baseball players, golfers, and skiers at Middlebury College. Patty first played golf at the age of two, when her father gave her a sawed-off two-iron. She was a nationally ranked junior skier at 13 but quit that sport in favour of golf at 14. Moving to Reno, Nev., Sheehan won three straight state high-school individual championships. She attended the University of Nevada for three years and won the Nevada state amateur championships in 1975-78. Transferring to California State University at San Jose, she won California's amateur title in 1978-79 and the national college championship in 1980, the year she turned professional.

      After winning her first LPGA tour victory, in 1981 at the Mazda Japan Classic, Sheehan was named Rookie of the Year for that season. Within three years she won two major championships, the LPGA tournaments of 1983 and 1984. She won four tournaments in each of those years, also gaining Player of the Year honours in 1983 and the tour's lowest scoring average, 71.40, in 1984. But she did not win another major tournament for eight years.

      It seemed to be Sheehan's year in 1990; she won five tournaments, posted a career-best 70.62 scoring average, shot 29 rounds in the 60s, and became the second woman ever to earn $700,000 in a season. She led the U.S. Open by nine strokes on the final, 36-hole day, and her 12-under-par score at one point made her the first golfer ever to reach 10 under par at any stage of a men's or women's U.S. Open. But she then lost the lead to Betsy King for her third second-place finish in nine Opens.

      When Sheehan finally won the Open in 1992, she had to win an 18-hole play-off against college teammate Juli Inkster. A year later Sheehan made the LPGA championship her fourth major and 31st career win. (KEVIN M. LAMB)

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Universalium. 2010.

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