ROCKLAND, Del. -- It has taken awhile, but Patty Sheehan has developed a philosophy that has seen her through good times and bad.
The good includes Player of the Year and scoring awards to go with 26 wins on the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour.
The bad includes some disappointing tournament finishes, as well as having her San Francisco Bay area home destroyed by the 1989 earthquake.
"My philosophy is that everything happens for a purpose," Sheehan, the defending champion of the McDonald's Championship, said yesterday. "You are going to have ups and downs, but I try to remember only the good things. The down things make you come back stronger and better."
The McDonald's event, making its fifth successive appearance at the Du Pont Country Club this week, has provided Sheehan with memories from both sides.
"I had won this event when it was at White Manor [in Malvern, Pa.], but then it came over here and I missed the cut the first year," she said.
She chose not to dwell on her 1988 showing, when she led after each of the first two rounds, was in position to win on Sunday, then missed a chance at a playoff when she could not drop a three-foot putt on the final green.
"The thing I remember most about last year is that coming down the 16th fairway on Sunday, a guy yelled out from the gallery that Ayako [Okamoto] had double-bogeyed the 16th in front of me. That helped me to relax, although it didn't change the way I played the final holes. That sticks in my memory."
Okamoto had tied for the lead halfway through the final round, but Sheehan responded with two birdies and when Okamoto faded, Sheehan wound up with a four-stroke triumph.
Over the years, Sheehan, 34, and in her 12th tour season, has been among the annual leaders in rounds in the 60s, top 10 finishes and scoring average.
This year is no exception. She is first in top 10 finishes, scoring average and the Player of the Year standings. She is second to Pat Bradley on the money list, $266,886 to $301,643.
The McDonald's field, which begins play this morning, has this year's top 19 money-winners and 33 of the first 35.
Five players in the field are within range of meeting the LPGA's stringent Hall of Fame requirements (30 victories, including two different majors).
Amy Alcott, who needs one victory, was close, with a tie for second two weeks ago at the Atlantic City Classic, and heads the group that also has Sheehan, Pat Bradley (27 wins), Beth Daniel (26 wins) and Betsy King (24 wins).
All five also will be at the LPGA Championship at Bethesda CC next week.
NOTES: Baltimorean Tina Barrett, in a threesome with Ok-Hee Ku and Sandra Palmer, has tee times of noon today and 8:50 tomorrow morning. . . . The first time is 7:30 a.m., and the last, 1:40 p.m. . . . Sixteen players have won this year's 17 events (Jane Geddes has won twice), and all the winners are here but Chris Johnson (Ping/Welch's Championship in Tucson, Ariz.).