|LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England (AP) - Sherri Steinhauer shot an even-par 72 Sunday to win the Women's British Open for the third time, and the first since the tournament became a major. Steinhauer finished at 7-under 281 at Royal Lytham for her second major title, the first being at the now-discontinued Du Maurier Classic in Canada in 1992.|
"That is the biggest thrill for me that I've done it now as a major," Steinhauer said. "I'm on cloud nine right now and feel like I'm in a dream."
The 43-year-old American distanced herself from the field by playing mistake-free golf. 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.
Steinhauer also won the tournament in 1998 at Royal Lytham and then at Woburn a year later.
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 am so excited to play St. Andrew's," she said. "I cannot wait to go there and play at the home of golf."
She was three strokes better than Cristie Kerr (71) and Sophie Gustafson (72), the 2000 Women's British Open champion. Second-round leader Juli Inkster (73) and Lorena Ochoa (74) were another shot back 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."
Michelle 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.
Annika 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.
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 below-par round of the tournament until 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 on 16, 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."