|SHERRI STEINHAUER |
As Sherri Steinhauer begins her 20th season on the LPGA Tour, she looks around and marvels at the talent of the new players joining the women's major league of golf. She envies how far they can hit it off the tee, but she says she would not trade places for a second.
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Sherri Steinhauer then
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Sherri Steinhauer now
"I'm at a point in my career where I just feel so fortunate that I'm continuing to make a living at golf, which is my passion," said the 42-year-old Steinhauer, a Longhorn All-American in 1985. "I'm just out there having fun every day, every hole of golf, just enjoying the experience.
"That's not to say I don't still work hard at it," the six-time LPGA winner added. "I've still got that burn to win. But as I have grown older, it's just not the life or death situation it used to be."
Steinhauer is a native of Madison, Wis., and was a three-time winner of the Wisconsin State Junior Championship. She played on Coach Pat Weis' UT teams of 1981-85, including the 1984 Southwest Conference Championship team. Steinhauer, who won five college titles, was named to the Southwest Conference All-Decade Team for the 19980s and was in the inaugural class of the UT Women's Hall of Honor in 2000.
Steinhauer qualified for the LPGA Tour in 1986 and has been a fixture ever since. Her six victories include three majors: the 1992 de Maurier Ltd. Classic and the Women's British Open in 1998 and 1999. She played on the United State team in the Solheim Cup Matches three times and earlier this year passed the $4 million mark in career winnings.
That's an impressive resume, and Steinhauer would like to add to it. She feels she can play competitively on the LPGA several more years. But she knows it will get tougher as she starts to tee it up with women half her age.
"The girls starting out today on the Tour are so different," Steinhauer said from her home in Palm Springs, Fla. "They are so extremely well prepared in every phase of the game. They have all the shots. They are stronger physically. Many work with a physical trainer. Many work with a sports psychologist.
"They start out with so much more tournament experience than I had at that age," Steinhauer added. "They play about the same kind of college schedule we did, but the rest of the year they are still playing a whole lot of tournament golf. The transition from college to pros is not nearly as tough for them as it was for me."
One challenge for Steinhauer in playing with younger golfers is that "they hit the ball so far. It's incredible. I try to stick to my own game and not pay attention to how far they are hitting. When I'm swinging well, I can still get it out there pretty far, but not like that."
Experience is still the best teacher, and Steinhauer says there are some things a player has to learn on their own over time.
"This is pretty demanding lifestyle with all the travel, the physical demands and the pressure of competing," she said. "It takes most players a while to figure it all out. I wouldn't trade it for anything, because, like I said, I am living my passion. But it can take a toll, and as you get older you want to stay home more."
Steinhauer won't be at home much this season. She plans to play about the same schedule as a year ago when she made 27 LPGA appearances.