In its 69-year history, only five amateurs have won LPGA Tour events. We lost one of them last week.
Patricia O’Sullivan Lucey, winner of the 1951 Titleholders, passed away peacefully at her home on Nov. 6. She was 93. The widow of former Brockton, Mass., Mayor C. Gerald Lucey, Patricia was recognized as one of the greatest female golfers the state of Connecticut has ever produced.
Born in Orange, Conn., in 1921, Patricia O’Sullivan also won three North & South Women’s Amateur Championships, three Connecticut State Women’s Amateur Championships, three New England Women’s Amateur Championships, five Endicott Cups and was a member of the 1952 U.S. Curtis Cup Team. She is one of only two Connecticut natives to win on the LPGA Tour, joining Heather Daly-Donofrio.
“The women of the LPGA were wonderful to me,” O’Sullivan Lucey said in the early 2000s. “Babe (Zaharias) played a man’s type of game and she was a character. She’d talk with anyone when she was playing. She used to tell me that I should wear shorts. ‘Hey, O’Sullivan, you’ve got the best-looking legs of anyone on Tour. Show them off.’ She was great to play with and I learned a lot from watching her. I was very fond of Patty Berg, too. She was a devout Catholic. She would go to Mass in the middle of the week and read her prayers in the locker room. Like Babe, she was a great entertainer.”
O’Sullivan held her own when competing with the likes of Babe and Patty. “I never played in a tournament after I had won it three times in a row,” she said, which explains so many of her three-and-out records. “I also never entered a tournament if I didn’t think I had a good chance of winning. I never wanted to just be part of the field. Why bother?
“When I played against people like Babe Zaharias, who was a very long hitter, it never bothered me to be outdriven because I would hit 13 to 16 greens in regulation,” O’Sullivan Lucey said. “If you can do that, you can score.”
Recent fans of the women’s game know that Lydia Ko won the CP Women’s Open twice as an amateur in 2012 and 2013. And students of the game know that Catherine Lacoste, daughter of tennis great Rene “the Crocodile” Lacoste, won the 1967 U.S. Women’s Open to become the only amateur to capture that championship. Few remember that JoAnne Carner won the 1960 Burdine’s Invitational before turning pro. And almost no one can recall that the first two amateurs to win LPGA Tour titles were Polly Riley, who won the 1950 Tampa Open, and O’Sullivan Lucey.
Patricia was a member of Race Brook Country Club, which she joined in 1942. The club named its nine-hole “interior” course “The O’Sullivan” after Patricia. Her statue adorns the first tee.
A Mass and Christian Burial for Patricia O’Sullivan Lucey, women’s golf pioneer, will be celebrated on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019 at 10:30 a.m. at Holy Infant Church in Orange, Conn.