Sunday, September 5, 2010

Out Spotlight

Today's Out Spotlight has been inducted into her sport's Hall of Fame, has won 6 championships and has had a total 35 victories in her twenty plus year career. She is one of the first of her sport to come out publicly and did so while she was still playing competitively. Today's Out Spotlight is Hall of Fame golfer, Patty Sheehan.

Patty Sheehan was born October 27, 1956 the only girl into a family of jock. Her father, Bobo Sheehan, was the ski coach for Middlebury College (Vermont) and an assistant coach for golf, baseball, and football. Determined to be as good at sports as her three bothers, she proved herself as much as an athlete, especially in snow skiing while growing up in the Green Mountain State. At the age of thirteen she held the top national ranking for skiers in her age group.

At the same time she had been working on her golf game, and when the Sheehans moved to Reno, Nevada, she competed for her high school. Her success on the high school team got her an athletic scholarship to the University of Nevada-Reno, which she attended for three years before transferring to San Jose State University in California. During her college career she won the Nevada State Amateur Championship three consecutive years and the California Women's Amateur title in 1977 and 1978. She was named national champion of the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women in 1979. She was inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Collegiate Golf Hall of Fame in 1990 for her amateur career.

Sheehan qualified to join the Ladies' Professional Golf Association's (LPGA) tour in 1980 and performed so well in her rookie year, including her first victory in the final event of the season, she earned the LPGA's Rookie of the Year honors in 1981.

She had continued success on the green, making the cut to play in the final rounds in most of the tournaments, achieving top-ten finishes in many of them, and steadily added to her tally of victories. She won four times in both 1983 and 1984, and won the LPGA Championship in both seasons. She was named the LPGA Tour Player of the Year in 1983 and was one of several athletes named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year in 1987. The decade was charmed until 1989 when she lost her home and almost all of her possessions in the October 1989 San Francisco earthquake.

Despite the tragedy she made the cut every of tournament in 1990, with 16 top tens finishes and 5 wins. But the season was marred when she blew an 11-stroke lead in the final round of the U.S. Open in Atlanta in July, losing by one stroke to Betsy King.

Speaking of her about the season, first losing her home and ending with a meltdown at the US Open, she said "After these mini-catastrophes, I had to overcome a lot of psychological hurdles—bad memories and bad thoughts."

In 1992 she "eliminate[ed] the demons" from Atlanta with a come-from-behind charge and a play-off victory in the U.S. Open. "It was such a great comeback from 1990, and emotionally it healed so many wounds. It was the most significant win of my career because I overcame so much doubt," she said of her first triumph in the prestigious tournament.

During the run to repeat her US Open win in 1994, she achieved her thirtieth victory on the LPGA tour, and was induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1993.

On the eve of the 1995 LPGA Championships, CBS golf analyst Ben Wright provoked a storm of outrage and indignation when he was quoted as saying, "Lesbians in the sport hurt women's golf. When it gets to the corporate level, that's not going to fly. They're going to a butch game and that furthers the bad image of the game."

He also complained that lesbianism "is not reticent. It's paraded. There's a defiance in them in the last decade." He compounded the offense by opining that "women are handicapped by having boobs" because, he claimed, they interfere with the women's ability to execute golf swings properly.

He flatly denied having made the statements, but later apologized for "insensitive remarks." CBS initially supported him but later dropped him from their broadcast team.

Asked for her reaction to the controversy, Sheehan who was still in the closet at the time made a carefully worded statement. "Lesbianism is an issue, but not the main issue. The main issue is growth." Focusing on the matter of sponsorship, she noted, "We've made great strides. Corporations are now coming to us."

Three years later, she came out and was one of the first women in the LPGA to do so. In a column in the March 27, 1998 edition of Golf World magazine, she revealed that she and her manager, Rebecca Gaston, had been partners for twelve years and had recently adopted a daughter. "After years of believing we would make ideal parents—and having many of our friends and family tell us the same thing—it's been wonderful to finally take on this new challenge."

She went on to say that if others looked had a problem with their idea of what a family is, "It's their problem, not mine. There are too many children in this world who don't have an equal chance in life and who aren't loved to worry about what other people think. We have the means to provide Bryce with a comfortable upbringing and, more importantly, we have the desire to be loving and devoted mothers....Bryce knows that she's loved and wanted now." "I think there are a lot of men and women like me-people who spent much of their 20s and 30s devoting themselves to their careers, and put off starting a family until their 40s. After years of believing we would make ideal parents-and having many of our friends and family tell us the same thing-it's been wonderful to finally take on this new challenge."

She was praised by GLAAD for her courage in coming out during her playing days and commended her for her comments about her family: "Love is at the heart of parenting, and gay and lesbian people are as committed to that ideal as anyone. [Sheehan's] voice resonates to many thousands of fans, and she is sending an accurate, positive message about our community."

Since 2000, she continued to play well but in fewer events than she had earlier in her career. Despite less tournaments her performance was such that in 2001 she was named for the fifth time to the team representing the United States against European players in the tournament for the Solheim Cup and was named captain for the 2001 Sohleim Cup and 2003 Cup.

After the 2003 cup Sheehan left the regular LPGA tour. Over the 23 years she had won 35 tournaments, including two U.S. Opens, three PGA Championships and one Dinah Shore Classic. She finished in the Top 10 on the LPGA money list every year from 1982-93. In addition has played on the U.S. Solheim Cup team five times.

She continues winning, now in the LPGA's senior (Legends) division, and has been instrumental in bringing the United States team three wins in a row (2006-2008) over the World team in the Handa Cup tournament, an event for women 45 years of age and older. She also designs golf courses.

Pat and Rebecca adopted a second child, Blake several years after adopting their daughter Bryce. Together for 24 years, they make their home in Reno, NV where they are active in their community.


destiny said...

Given the timing, it sounds like Sheehan is another one who came out because of her child. Good for her for putting her child first.

Special K said...

Gorgeous day up here in on the MA coast, with the morning in 50's and the day's high just over 70F.

Seaweed, how was Earl to you? It sounds like you guys got a little bit of a punch up there.

About today's Spotlight, one more thing that is remarkable about Patty is that she came out while she was still playing and there have only been a handful of athletes in all sports combined to do that. I remember the whole brouhaha over the Ben Wright comments. Many took such a negative thing and made it a catalyst to make something positive, bringing changes in the LPGA and the culture toward more openess.

the real m said...

Good spotlight as usual. So sad that she lost her home in the quake. I can still recall seeing the fires and the sound of gas leaking that day. It was a continuous loud rush heard all over SF.

Matthew on MV? Maybe he is visiting friends. I never trust twitter though and Jake has been seen too often in places he's not to take them seriously.

I did not see Jake's name listed on the Cancer telethon attendees. I thought he was scheduled to be there. An oversight or did he get booted since you know who will now be participating.

tweeter said...

Twitter is very strange. What else do they measure???

RT:followfriday200 @AUS10NICHOLS was #452 most recommended celebrity this week on Twitter

Sensitive Julian
In time out since Friday.

Special K said...

So here's The CW's 2010 Fall Preview Sneak Peek.

CW 2010 Fall Preview

Can you count how many seconds OTH ends up on screen? Not counting Rob who's one of the host of this little sneak peek. Did they even mention it?

Looks like OTH is circling the drain.

Seaweed said...

Well, Earl packed a pretty fair punch. Power out to about 200,000 households in the Province but most hooked up again within a day. It was a borderline, Catergory One Hurrycane or Major Tropical Storm. I've seen worse wind gusts here in the winter but this was sustained for a few hours. Just loving the after Earl weather with more moderate temps and fall style breezes. Much more liveable.... sigh!

Another great Out Spotlight Special ! Hope everyone is enjoying a relaxing Labour Day Holiday.