high school golfer, Central Bucks East senior Patrick Sheehan could have looked at his past playoff performances and determined that he was either snake bitten or blessed.
Sheehan chose the latter.
As a sophomore, he missed regionals by a stroke. Last year in the District One Class 3A tournament, he had a three-stroke lead over the eventual champion with three holes to go only to see the D1 trophy slip away.
This season, Sheehan grabbed medalist honors in the Suburban One League (SOL) tournament then won a playoff in districts facing Central Bucks West senior Luca Jezzeny and Holy Ghost Prep senior Liam Hart – the defending state champion – to claim District One gold all to himself.
In districts held Oct. 8 and 9 at Turtle Creek Golf Course (6,518 yards, par 72), he bogeyed four holes in the first round to negate four birdies he recorded that day to finish even par.
Day two was a different story. After carding even par on his opening hole, he recorded the only eagle in the tournament on the par 5, 529-yard second to help close a four-stroke gap between he and Jezzeny.
Sheehan carded three additional birdies in round two of districts – and more importantly, not a single bogey – to finish 5-under par 67 and force the playoff with Jezzeny and Hart.
Sheehan won the playoff when Jezzeny hit his tee shot into a fairway bunker then failed to get up and down in two shots from there.
“One of the things that separates Patrick from other golfers is his ability to not let prior shots carry over to future shots,” said CB East golf coach Matt Wolf.
“He’s able to forget the past and focus on the next shot.
“That’s one of the things that’s made him one of the elite golfers in the state.”
The last district champion at East was Jake Brophy, a track and cross country star who in 2016, captured D1 gold in the 3,200-meter run during the outdoor season and grabbed a PTFCA state gold medal in the 3,000 meters during the indoor season that year. Kristen White, who graduated in 2001 and is a member of the CB East Athletic Hall of Fame and the Ohio State University Athletic HOF, was the last district golf champion for the Patriots.
After coming so close last year, Sheehan was determined to win a district trophy for East this time around.
“He came into the (district) tournament with the expectation of potentially winning districts,” explained Wolf.
“He has very high expectations of himself when he enters these events.
“To him, second and third place are still impressive accomplishments, but (to him), second, third, fourth, fifth, it’s not number one.”
After the first round of districts however, Sheehan trailed Jezzeny by four strokes and he trailed Hart by three. His standing on the leaderboard changed dramatically on day two.
“The next day, he blitzed the course,” stated Wolf. “He put up five-under (par) to take the district championship.”
Last year after winning the SOL tournament and grabbing a runner-up medal in districts, Sheehan missed the cut to make states by a single stroke. That’s almost been a positive for Sheehan, said Wolf.
“Missing that many times by such a narrow margin has helped him to see that challenge and overcome it.
“It’s made him more committed to working hard at the sport.
“It’s given him that tenacity to grind it out.
“He knows that every stroke matters and that every stroke could be the difference between making or missing the cut.”
This year, Sheehan carded 1-under par 71 to tie for second place with Council Rock South senior Matt Fleming at the Pennsylvania Eastern State Regional held Oct. 15 at Golden Oaks Golf Club (7,126 yards, par 72).
In states, Sheehan bogeyed two of the first nine holes the first day and three of his first four the second day. Again, he didn’t let it get to him.
“One of the things that separates Patrick from other golfers is his tenacity,” added Wolf.
“He’s very even-keeled. Even when his round doesn’t go the way he’d hoped it would, he’s able to maintain that same even disposition.
“He knows that he can always come back.”
Sheehan showed that resolve in round two of the PIAA tournament with a stretch of birdies he recorded from holes 13 through 16. After carding even par on 17, he unfortunately double-bogeyed the final hole after landing his tee shot on some tree roots in the rough on 18.
After some higher than average scores on day one of the state tourney held Oct. 22 and 24 at Heritage Hills Golf Resort (6,663 yards, par 71), officials decided on some easier pin placements for round two.
Franklin Regional senior Palmer Jackson took full advantage, recording birdies on six of his first 10 holes to win states by four strokes.
“The kid that won – Palmer Jackson – he was really on fire,” explained Wolf. “He was pouring in birdie putts – eight- to 10-footers – like they were tap-ins.
“It was an impressive display.”
Before finishing states in a tie for third place with Hart, Sheehan led the Suburban One League (SOL) in score differential throughout the season and tied for the overall championship with a 2-under par 70 in the Central Dauphin Invitational, where the Patriots placed fourth overall.
He, Jezzeny and Souderton junior Thomas Butler shared medalist honors in the SOL tournament held Oct. 1 at Five Ponds (6,672 yards, par 71).
CB West captured the SOL Continental Conference crown with and 11-1 league record.