It is a tribute of a person’s fortitude that she is at her best when life seems at its worst. That, then, says it all about Patty Sheehan, who has twice answered adversity with achievement, and who has proven that heart and courage mean as much in golf as talent. When you grow up as a downhill skier, you learn how to pick yourself up, and that’s what Sheehan has done.
In 1989, Sheehan lost her house, her trophies and nearly all of her life savings in the San Francisco earthquake. She came back the next year to win five tournaments and more than $732,000. Nearly all of that money went to pay bills, but it was the tournament she lost in 1990 that represented as much potential devastation to her career as the earthquake did to her financial security.
The U.S. Women’s Open was played at the Atlanta Athletic Club. Sheehan had an 11-stroke lead in the third round and ended up losing it all to Betsy King. As Sheehan later said, “I had owned the Open. It was in my hands. I could break a leg and still shoot well enough to win, but I hadn’t been able to do it.”