LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England -- Whenever Sherri Steinhauer
mentioned to people she had won the Women's British Open twice,
they always assumed the tournament was a major.
Steinhauer never bothered to correct them.
Now she doesn't have to.
The 43-year-old American shot an even-par 72 Sunday at Royal
Lytham to win the Women's British Open for the third time, and the
first since the tournament became a major in 2001.
"That is the biggest thrill for me that I've done it now as a
major," Steinhauer said after finishing three strokes ahead of
Cristie Kerr (71) and 2000 champion Sophie Gustafson (72).
Steinhauer also won the tournament in 1998 at Royal Lytham and
then at Woburn a year later.
"People who thought the two that I won, they thought they were
a major. Now that it really is, it makes the other two that much
sweeter, too," she said.
Steinhauer finished at 7-under 281 for her second major title,
the first being at the now discontinued Du Maurier Classic in
Canada in 1992.
Steinhauer achieved her latest success on English soil with
risk-free golf, consistently hitting fairways and greens on a
course on which she feels comfortable. She came to the 18th on
Sunday having gone 48 holes without a bogey. She promptly hit into
a greenside bunker and capped off her win with a bogey five.
"It just felt like it was my turn to win out there," she said.
"I tried to just hit fairways and greens and stay out of trouble.
This kind of golf suits my game. This course really should really
suit the way I play. At the U.S. Open you have to hit it high and
soft. It's not my game."
She will defend the title next year at St. Andrew's as the
Women's British Open goes to the venerable course for the first
"I'm on cloud nine right now and feel like I'm in a dream,"
Steinhauer said. "I am so excited to play St. Andrew's. I cannot
wait to go there and play at the home of golf."
Having been in a slump during the past three years, Steinhauer
mastered the Lytham links while Michelle Wie and Annika Sorenstam,
two of the leading contenders coming into the tournament, finished
Wie shot her third straight 2-over 74 to finish at 6-over 294.
The 16-year-old from Hawaii has failed to break par in her last
seven rounds at a major. Sorenstam, who won last month's U.S. Open
for her 10th major victory, shot a 44 on the back nine and finished
with a 7-over 79 for a 7-over 295.
Second-round leader Juli Inkster (73) and Lorena Ochoa (74) were
a shot behind Kerr and Gustafson at 3-under 285.
Kerr came within a stroke of Steinhauer after the 15th but saw
her chance slip away when her second shot went past the green at
No. 16. She bogeyed that hole and had a double-bogey 6 on 18 after
she needed two shots to get out of a fairway bunker.
"I had a lapse of concentration of the 16th hole," Kerr said.
"Sometimes you know where you are aiming but sometimes, at the
last minute, you move it mentally. I ended up blocking it and
getting a bad kick and making bogey."
Gustafson also cut Steinhauer's lead to one with birdies at the
first and fourth holes only for the American to respond with a
6-foot birdie putt to restore her two-stroke advantage.
It got worse for the Swede when she almost fell as she chipped
her ball out of a greenside bunker at the seventh and made a bogey
to fall three off the lead.
Wie was headed for her first sub-par round of the championship
until she took a triple-bogey at the 15th. She found two bunkers
and needed two shots to get out of each before three-putting.
Although she responded with a birdie, she missed a short birdie
putt at 17 and her tee shot at 18 landed in a fairway pot bunker
virtually up against the foot of the wall.
Again she needed two shots to get out but holed a 14-foot putt
for a bogey and finished with another 74.
"I think strangely enough that I learned more here this week
than I did all summer," said Wie, who tied for second at last
week's Evian Masters and had three thirds and two fifths in her
other five tournaments on the LPGA Tour. "I played great all
summer and played good in this tournament. Just a couple of shots
did not go the way I wanted them to.
"But today, yesterday and the day before, I learned so much."