Senior Amateur Sensation
Bill Shean Jr., an insurance agency owner from Hinsdale, Ill.,
and a lifelong club golfer, spent four years preparing for the
intensely competitive senior amateur circuit, putting on the
AstroTurf green in his basement, lifting weights and working
with sports psychologist Bob Rotella. All the effort paid off.
On March 27, 1998, Shean (pronounced SHEE-in) turned 55, the
minimum age for senior amateur events, and that July, in his
third tournament, he was second in the British Senior Amateur.
Five weeks later he won the U.S. Senior Amateur, and with the
victory came invitations to a dozen prestigious events at places
like Merion and Seminole, plus a spot in Hale Irwin's threesome
at this year's U.S. Senior Open, where Shean played admirably,
missing the cut by only two shots. Last month Shean won the
British Senior Amateur to become the first player to hold the
British and U.S. titles concurrently.
Odd, then, that Shean has mixed emotions about his meteoric rise
to the top. "Winning was marvelous, and so was the appreciation
from family and friends," says Shean, who has three children,
ages 25 to 31. "But the travel killed me. Most of all, I missed
Such a sentiment is exactly what one would expect from a man
like Shean. He doesn't curse, drink or smoke and has been on the
board of trustees for the Christ Church of Oak Brook (Ill.) for
12 years. His small measure of celebrity hasn't changed him a
bit. "It's amazing, but he's always been a humble, giving
person," says Lyn, Shean's wife of 32 years.
The second of nine children in a strict Irish Catholic family,
Shean was a natural at golf. He started caddying at Hinsdale
Golf Club at 13 and that summer taught himself to play with the
help of Ben Hogan's book Power Golf. By the end of the year
Shean was shooting in the 70s and winning all the money at the
Monday caddie outings. He attended Michigan on an Evans
Scholarship (for caddies) but didn't play on the team. Though he
dreamed about turning pro, he was too smart to do so. "Beating
caddies is one thing," says Shean, "but unless you're absolutely
cleaning house in the amateur ranks, you have no business
thinking you can play with Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino, and
you ought to have a day job."
For the last few years, Shean has worked long hours during the
winter selling insurance so he can play hooky in the summers and
sate his appetite for golf. A member of five clubs, he has won
seven championships at Butler National, five at Chicago Golf and
one at Pine Valley, in 1995, when he set the club's 54-hole
competitive record with a one-under 209.
Considering Shean's recent success, has he thought about trying
the Senior tour? "No way," says Shean, who will defend his U.S.
Senior Amateur title next week at Portland Golf Club. "Living
out of a suitcase for the past year, I learned that even if I
had the game, I would not have survived on the pro tour. I like
being home way too much."
A Web Site with Spin
Tour Takes Over
Within three years of its January 1995 launch, GolfWeb was the
most visited golf site by far. Specializing in worldwide news,
features and commentary, the site won several awards, including
America Online's 1995 Best Sports Site of the Year. In 1997 CBS
SportsLine bought GolfWeb and in April of this year GolfWeb
merged with PGATour.com. When the combined site debuted on Aug.
31, it read more like a press release from the Tour than a
The new site prominently displays news and real-time scoring
from the PGA, Senior and Nike tours but buries everything else.
The fact that the Tour has the last word on content is all too
obvious. Recently, a headline on a story about Tiger Woods was
changed from TIGER OUTSHINES DUVAL to TIGER ON A ROLL because
the Tour disliked the way the original pitted one player against
another. Last week, when Callaway dropped John Daly, the site's
editors had to get permission from Tour commissioner Tim Finchem
to display the story prominently, according to Stu Schneider,
who until resigning last week had been the executive editor of
GolfWeb since December 1995. "The Tour is running the show,"
"We're not attempting to manage the news," says John Morris, the
Tour's VP of communications. Mark Mariani, president of
SportsLine, denies that the site's journalistic integrity has
been compromised. "Have we been restricted in what we do and
say?" he asks. "No." --Gene Menez
COLOR PHOTO: DAVID WALBERG Blastoff Shean was an instant hit on the senior amateur circuit.
COLOR PHOTO: KMG PHOTOGRAPHY
COLOR PHOTO: D.C. GOINGS
COLOR PHOTO: JIM LUZZI
What do these players have in common?
They are the only LPGA players to have won more than $1 million
in a season. Inkster did it this year, Sorenstam in 1997 and
'98, and Webb in '96 and again this season.
Which is the most important event in golf?
U.S. Open 27%
British Open 14%
Ryder Cup 12%
--Based on 1,305 responses to our informal survey
Next question: Should the Presidents Cup, as Jack Nicklaus
suggests, be a qualifier for the Ryder Cup? According to
Nicklaus's plan, the loser of this week's Ryder Cup would play
the Internationals in the 2000 Presidents Cup for the right to
face the defending champion in the 2001 Ryder Cup. Vote at
With his victory at the Bank One Championship in Dallas, Tom
Watson became the 10th golfer to win a Senior and a regular Tour
event in Texas. Of those 10, these players have the most total
wins in the Lone Star State.
Senior PGA Total
Lee Trevino 4 3 7
Tom Watson 1 6 7
Bruce Crampton 2 4 6
Chi Chi Rodriguez 4 2 6
Don January 2 2 4
Han Lee, Cerritos, Calif.
Lee, 22, won the Canadian Amateur at Rivershore Golf Links in
Kamloops, B.C., defeating Wes Heffernan, 22, of Calgary one up
in the 36-hole final. Lee, a senior at Cal, was the 14th
American to win the Amateur, which has been contested 95 times
Kim Benedict, Rochester Hills, Mich.
Benedict, 18, won the Michigan Stroke-Play with a 10-over 154 at
Radrick Farms Golf Club in Ann Arbor. A freshman at Michigan,
Benedict also won the state match-play this summer. Last spring
she won the Michigan Class A high school championship.
Mark Brown, Glen Cove, N.Y.
Brown, 33, the head pro at Tam O'Shanter Country Club in
Brookville, N.Y., became the first golfer since 1992 to win the
Metropolitan Golf Association Open and the New York State Open
in the same year. In the final round of the Met, Brown shot a
course-record 65 at the par-71 Tuxedo Club in Tuxedo Park.
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