Patty Sheehan, Nancy Lopez Honored at NCPGA’s ‘The Langley’
August 10, 2014
A visit to Pebble Beach brought back a flood of memories for fellow World Golf Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez and Patty Sheehan.
But it was the reason they were in the area that mattered the most.
Both now 57, Lopez, the only woman to win LPGA Rookie of the Year, Player of the Year and the Vare trophy for lowest scoring average in the same season (1978), was just 15 years old when she received a personal invitation from Bing Crosby to play in the Crosby Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
When Lopez, who was invited along with then-fellow amateur Beth Daniel arrived, she found out that she’d be playing her practice round with Arnold Palmer and Mark McCormack.
“Playing with them was nerve wracking but it was also cool,” said Lopez, a three-time major winner. “I remember the wind was blowing. It hit driver on No.17 at Pebble Beach and I didn’t get close to the green. I was so excited.”
Sheehan, meanwhile, got her thrills by winning both the 1977 and 1978 California Women’s Amateur Championship at Pebble Beach. In one of her matches, the six-time major winner, then 20-21, squared off against a younger gal named Juli Inkster.
“I remember getting a lucky penny from (tournament founder) Helen Lengfeld,” Sheehan said with a smile. “It’s where I also met Juli. I played her in a match. She was 16, but she quickly got my attention. We’ve been friends ever since.”
The two stars were at The Inn at Spanish Bay on Sunday, shining in a different light, as the pair was honored at the Northern California PGA’s 7th annual ‘The Langley—A Tribute to Legends.’ Named after late Cypress Point Club head pro Jim Langley, this year’s event benefitted among other charities the Special Olympics of Northern California, the Junior Tour of Northern California and the American Heart Association’s Saving Strokes.
Lopez and Sheehan joined an impressive list of past honorees including Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Ken Venturi, Billy Casper, Tom Watson, Palmer and Langley.
Sheehan, who finished in the Top 10 on the LPGA Tour money list each year from 1982-1993, said she first got to know Mr. Langley when she was a kid playing in the CWAC.
“I asked him if I could play Cypress Point and he said, ‘Yes at 7:30 a.m.,’” Sheehan recalled. “I played by myself. It’s my favorite golf course in the world. Jim was always so gracious to me, so it means a lot to be here. He was such a wonderful, kind man.”
Lopez, who was in the area for the first time since playing in the Crosby, said she never did get to meet Langley. But she had heard plenty about him.
“When I told people that I was coming to ‘The Langley’, everyone knew who he was. People had so many kind things to say. It’s an honor. I wish I would’ve known him,” Lopez said.
Following in the footsteps of Langley, Sheehan and Lopez continue to stay busy giving back in their own ways.
Sheehan has the Patty Sheehan Foundation, which supports women’s and children’s charities in northern Nevada. One of the foundation’s biggest events is the Patty Sheehan and Friends Pro-Am, held in partnership with the Legends Tour, which Lopez also still plays on.
Lopez, meanwhile, continues to support Adventures in Movement (AIM), an organization that helps mentally challenged, visually and hearing impaired, physically handicapped and other children and adults with special needs. Lopez has been involved with AIM since her second season on tour.
“I love AIM. I’ve seen miracles happen, and there’s also been a lot of tears,” said Lopez, who was a dynamo in her 1978 rookie season, winning nine times, including five in a row. “We help parent too and we don’t charge anything. It’s been fun.”
So too was Sunday’s event, thanks to the presence of Sheehan and Lopez.
“Nancy and Patty are admired by all golfers for their achievements and contributions to the game,” said NCPGA executive director and COO Chris Thomas. “In particular, they are an inspiration to so many young women golfers who are increasingly charting their own courses thanks to the advancements Nancy and Patty have made before them.”
Held annually, ‘The Langley’ is the NCPGA’s premier fundraising event. Anyone interested in contributing to the NCPGA Foundation is encouraged to visitwww.NCPGAfoundation.org or call 707-449-4742 to make a donation.