Captaining The Cup


In a year that has brought patriotism to the forefront of American minds, Patty Sheehan has the honor of captaining the 2002 U.S. Solheim Team as they travel the road to regaining the Cup on American soil.
It's an honor that is not lost on Sheehan. 'I have prepared long and hard for this, and I'm so looking forward to being the captain, and, it's going to be a great experience for me, probably the cornerstone of my career.'
Sheehan, a member of the 1990, '92, '94, and '96 Solheim Cup Teams, has made a study of past captains' methods; noting Kathy Whitworth's control and attention to detail, JoAnne Carner's ability to motivate and Judy Rankin's reassuring style. 'You know I may be a combination of all of those because I have watched all of them, and, sort of picked up little things from each one of them,' Sheehan said.
In her mind there is no doubt that her team, comprised of five Solheim rookies, two Hall of Fame members, and five LPGA Tour veterans, will reach their goal of bringing the cup home once again.
A Hall of Fame member herself - with 35 wins to her credit including 6 majors - Sheehan needs not prove whether she has the intestinal fortitude necessary to bring her team to victory. In the course of her LPGA Tour career she weathered a devastating personal setback during the 1989 San Francisco earthquake, in which she lost most all of her personal possessions. Then, she incurred the loss of an 11-stroke third round lead, which cost her the 1990 U.S. Women's Open. But Sheehan, cut from fine Vermont cloth, found strength in herself when others might have succumbed to defeat. Just two years later, determined to succeed, she defeated Juli Inkster in a playoff, in turn taking home the '92 Women's Open title.
That same fiery spirit and determination will now attempt to captain Inkster and 11 others to their team victory.

Now, days before the seventh Solheim Cup gets underway, Sheehan has the daunting task of pairing her team members. 'I've been struggling over putting together my pairings. I have about 20 sheets of paper in front of me that I've got pairings on. Some of them involve the ball consideration and some of them don't. Some of them involve personality and some involve the style of play. But, you know, I'll be making the pairings probably Monday or Tuesday so that we know approximately who to put in the practice rounds with, and they can start to familiarize themselves with each other.'
'I think putting a rookie with a veteran is probably a pretty good idea,' she continued. 'The rookies need to have a little bit of reassurance, you know, some calmness about the matches that putting two rookies together certainly would make them feel a little uncomfortable.'
Beth Daniel, participant in five out of six Solheim Cup teams, and four time Cup veteran Rosie Jones have spent the last few weeks sharing their insight and experience with some of the younger players. In addition, LPGA Founder and Minnesota native Patty Berg, will share her local knowledge of Interlachen C.C.
Even though this year's team spotlights five rookies - Laura Diaz, Cristie Kerr, Wendy Ward, Emilee Klein and Kelli Kuehne - just one rookie less than the European team, Sheehan is not worried. 'These young players are very talented. They're confident. They're cocky,' said Sheehan. 'These are the players that will be taking our places and carrying on the torch, carrying the flag for the United States in the years to come. It's great to have young blood, if you will, on the team. They bring a whole new dimension to dealing with my pairings, to locker room talk. They're a lot of fun to have around because they're pretty spunky.'
Several of the players have an opportunity to play the course last month and, according to their captain, they loved it. 'They thought it was a great old course,' Sheehan said of the classic Donald Ross design. 'They thought it was a prefect golf course for match play.'
'It's going to be a great week. It's going to be a great week for women's golf. It's probably the ultimate tournament that we have in women's golf worldwide.'
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