Steinhauer wins LPGA Women's British Open title
LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England (LPGA.com) -- Sometimes history does repeat itself. Sherri Steinhauer won the Weetabix Women's British Open at the famed Royal Lytham & St. Annes links course by three stokes over Sophie Gustafson and Cristie Kerr.
The scene was reminiscent of her victory nearly eight years before and on the same historic course. In 1998, Steinhauer's march toward her first Weetabix Women's British Open began in the rain and this year it ended in it. Both times Gustafson finished in a tie for second place.
"I feel like I am living a dream," said Steinhauer, who earned $305,440 for her win and jumped from 23 rd to 15 th on the ADT Official Money List. "I am absolutely stunned. I was extremely nervous at the beginning of the day. I am speechless. This is incredible to me."
Her opening-round 9-over-par 81 in 1998 stands as one of the highest opening round scores by a winner in LPGA history. This year, her highest round was a 73, but the outcome -- another trophy on Steinhauer's mantle -- was the same.
This is the seventh LPGA win for Steinhauer and the third time she has won the Weetabix Women's British Open, as she also took home the prestigious title in 1999. However, it is the first time that Steinhauer has won the Weetabix Women's British Open since it was designated as one of the four LPGA majors in 2001.
The du Maurier Classic, which Steinhauer won in 1992, was a major on the LPGA schedule from 1979-2000. It was replaced by the Weetabix Women's British Open in 2001, which means that only one of Steinhauer's three Weetabix Women's British Open titles counts as a major championship.
"I wanted this bad," said Steinhauer, who last won on Tour at the 2004 Sybase Classic presented by Lincoln Mercury. "It was really difficult. I would start thinking and get ahead of myself, so I was hitting the rewind button out there a few times. It just means so much for me to win it as a major."
Steinhauer's victory was built on her ability to avoid trouble and a brilliant six-hole stretch in the third round, as she played holes 11-16 at 5-under-par. She never found one of the big numbers lurking in one of the nearly 200 bunkers that define Royal Lytham & St. Annes and that felled so many of her competitors.
"It just felt like it was my turn to win out there," said Steinhauer. "I tried to just hit the fairways and greens and stay out of trouble. I had to pay attention, but I had to just kind of stay out of my way out there."
After a bogey on the fifth hole in the second round, she played the next 48 holes without dropping a shot. She plodded through the final round with 16 pars, one birdie and a tap-in bogey on the final hole. Kerr was the closest to catching Steinhauer as she got to 7-under-par after a birdie on 15, but she was undone with a bogey on 16 and a double-bogey on 18.
At the age of 43 years, 7 months and 10 days Steinhauer became the second oldest player to win an LPGA major championship. Fay Crocker was 45 years, 7 months and 11 days old when she won the 1960 Titleholders Championship.
Gustafson won the 2000 Weetabix Women's British Open and has now finished runner-up in 1998, 2005 and 2006. Kerr, who has one LPGA win this year and seven in her career, now has eight top-five finishes in LPGA majors.
Two-time 2006 champion Lorena Ochoa finished tied for fourth with 36-hole leader and LPGA Tour and World Golf Halls of Fame member Juli Inkster at 285 (-3).
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 time.
"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 way back.
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.
The Sherri Steinhauer file