You have to be doing something right on the golf course if your name is associated with Patty Sheehan, the Hall of Famer who won the LPGA Tour 35 times.
Before Sheehan rose to professional fame, she was a pre-eminent Reno amateur and winner of the Nevada Women’s State Amateur, four times a record.
Enter Veronica Joels, the standout UNLV who won the Nevada Women’s Amateur for the third time this month, leaving her one win behind Sheehan’s mark.
Joels did it in spectacular fashion, birdieing six of her final eight holes at Red Hawk Golf and Resort in Sparks to defeat UNLV teammate Aliyah Williams in a single stroke.
“Overall, I played pretty well and hit a lot of fairways and greens,” said Joels. “I think I hit 17 out of 18 greens on the last lap, but on the second nine the putts just started falling.”
After 10 straight pars to open her round, Joels made birdies in 11th, 12th, 13th, 15th and 16th places. She finished the title in style, moving her approach to 3 feet on the 18th for her final birdie and the Victory met.
“I’m very proud to be a Nevada Champion and to represent my state,” she said, calling the three titles one of her proudest achievements as a golfer. “It’s just super exciting.”
Amy Bush-Herzer, her trainer at UNLV, said she couldn’t be more proud of the payout for someone with such an incredible work ethic.
“Veronica is such a great student athlete,” said Bush-Herzer. “She represents Las Vegas so well.”
With more than 100 titles in her golf career, the big athletic part of Joels’ résumé is undeniable. But Joels is even more proud of her accomplishments as a student.
“My priority is my education,” she said.
She graduated in hospitality management at the beginning of December. Now in a graduate program at UNLV, she will also play for the rebels next season.
Bush-Herzer is excited to have her back and expects big things – and leadership – from Joels as a veteran on a team of six new players next season.
“Helping her grow as a player has been an honor,” said Bush-Herzer.
Joels said college golf made her a better player and helped calm her emotions. The sport forces you to play in a variety of situations, play when you’re not feeling well, and learn not to drown too much, she explained
“College golf changes you,” she said. “You have to learn to adapt and play. You are put in every situation and the competition is so valuable. It makes you grow. “
Joels said hitting the ball is her clear strong point on the court while working on getting more putts to fall is her challenge. As with everything she does, she has a rigid daily routine for turning weakness into strength.
“I think if you do it every day you will get better,” she said.
Joels was the second team in the All-Mountain West Conference last year and hopes another year of experience will lead to success for her personally and the team as a whole next season.
Bush-Herzer says Joels is one of the most creative players she’s coached who has a great understanding of how far she hits with her clubs.
“She has a really solid understanding of her game,” said Bush-Herzer.
She also loves the game, something she lost when she gave up tennis at the age of 9 and turned to golf instead.
Joels is not sure whether this love leads to a professional career. She will be going to Q school next year to try and earn her playing card. But if she does, she could shift her status to complete her senior season at UNLV.
And maybe another chance next summer to catch Sheehan in the record books.
Greg Robertson is a freelance reporter who covers golf for the Review Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.