Sheehan, Patty (1956—)

views updated

Sheehan, Patty (1956—)

American golfer. Born Patty Sheehan in Middlebury, Vermont, on October 27, 1956; daughter of a ski coach; attended San Jose State.

Was Nevada State Amateur (1975–78) and California State Amateur (1978–79); won several LPGA tournaments, including Mazda Japan Classic (1981), Orlando Lady, Safeco, and Inamori classics (1982), Corning, Henredon, and Inamori classics, and LPGA championship (1983), Elizabeth Arden, McDonald's, and Henredon classics, and LPGA championship (1984), Safeco Classic (1990); won the U.S. Open (1992).

Though Patty Sheehan excelled as a golfer, she began her sports career as a skier. Her father, a ski instructor at Middlebury College, coached the U.S. Olympic team in 1956. Thus, it was no surprise that 13-year-old Patty Sheehan was rated the best skier in her age class in the nation. After the family moved to Nevada, however, Sheehan took up golf. For four years in a row, she won the Nevada State Amateur title (1975–78). She also won the California Amateur from 1978 to 1980 and was the national college champion. In 1980, Sheehan played on the Curtis Cup team, winning all four of her matches.

In 1981, she turned pro and was named LPGA Rookie of the Year. The following year, she had 18 top-10 finishes and 3 wins, until her powers seemed to fail her. Though she was diagnosed with pneumonia and was also suffering from arthritis in both hands, she was named Player of the Year in 1983, winning the Corning Classic, the Henredon Classic, the Inamori Classic, and the LPGA championship. The next year, Sheehan won the Elizabeth Arden Classic, the LPGA championship, and the McDonald's Kids' Classic. She was awarded a bonus of $500,000 for winning two of three LPGA events. Combined with her first prize earnings, that bonus gave her the largest award ever achieved by a professional golfer to that date.

At the 1992 U.S. Open, Sheehan birdied the final two holes, then took on Juli Inkster in an 18-hole playoff. Sheehan's win ended a minor drought and impressively dispelled her U.S. Open jinx. A three-time runner-up, in 1990 she had squandered a nine-stroke lead to lose by one to Betsy King . Three years before, in sudden-death play at the Nabisco-Dinah Shore Open, King had holed a bunker shot to take another win over Sheehan.


Markel, Robert, Nancy Brooks, and Susan Markel. For the Record: Women in Sports. NY: World Almanac, 1985.

Karin Loewen Haag , Athens, Georgia