Originally created 05/24/04

Steinhauer wins for first time in five years



NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. -- Sherri Steinhauer was walking with two friends just minutes after she won the Sybase Classic.

"Are we dreaming? Did this happen?" she asked following her first victory since 1999. "It's amazing."

The 19-year LPGA Tour veteran shot a 2-under 69 Sunday to finish two strokes in front of Grace Park. It was Steinhauer's sixth career victory and the first since winning this tournament and the British Open in 1999.

More importantly it wiped out memories of 2003, by far her worst year on tour, one she called "miserable" and that almost caused her to consider retiring.

"After last year, playing so horribly, it's an unbelievable feeling at this point," she said.

Steinhauer tied for the lead on Saturday with an eagle on the closing par-5.

While co-leader Becky Morgan had an up-and-down front nine with four birdies, two bogeys and a double-bogey, Steinhauer had nine pars. They were still tied at 10 under making the turn, with Park one shot back.

Steinhauer made birdies on Nos. 10, 14 and 15 to go up three strokes over Park. A bogey on 16 cut the lead to two, but Steinhauer had a great par save on 17 and parred 18 to finish with a 12-under 272 and get the win.

"If I'd never been in this position before I wouldn't know what it felt like," the 41-year-old Steinhauer said. "I was extremely nervous but I was doing my best to stay calm and I'm really proud of myself because I did do that. Even after I missed the putt on 16 and didn't hit a good drive on 17, my goal was to just stay calm and not panic in the situation."

Park, who took over the money lead from Annika Sorenstam, was second after a 68, while Morgan, who had a four-shot lead after 36 holes, had a 1-over 72 and was at 275. Morgan was 13 under and had a three-shot lead through six holes but didn't have another birdie.

"I was obviously nervous but I got off to a really good start," Morgan said. "The three-putt on No. 5 dented the confidence a little and the bad tee shot on 9 killed it."

Kelli Kuehne had a final-round 68 and was at 7-under 277, two strokes in front of Young Kim, who had a 70, and Stacy Prammanasudh, who closed with a 68 that included a two-stroke penalty for slow play.

Young-A Yang, who was tied with Park for third at the start of the final round, had a 3-over 74 and finished at 280. She was assessed a two-stroke penalty for slow play on the 17th hole. It was easily Yang's best tournament of the year as her previous top finish was a tie for 71st.

The first prize of $187,500 was almost five times what Steinhauer made last season ($40,174), when she finished 119th on the money list. She entered this tournament 57th on the list with almost $46,000 and her best finish had been a tie for 13th at the Office Depot Championship.

Steinhauer, who is 17th on the career money list with more than $4 million, won this tournament in 1999 in a five-hole playoff with Lori Kane that ended in near darkness.

"I thought about that more Saturday when we saw the pin today was going to be in the same place it was five years ago," she said of the back pin placement on No. 18, the hole they played five times in that playoff.

Park came into the tournament about $8,000 behind Sorenstam for first on the money list and the second prize of $114,156 gives her $652,881 in eight events.

"I wish I could say I'm happy but I'm not and that's the way it is," Park said. "Sherri played so well, very steady and made all the putts.

"She gave me a chance on 16 but," said Park, who didn't finish the thought.

Park was asked about taking over the money lead.

"I'll enjoy that for now," she said.

Divots: In addition to Steinhauer, other former champions who made the cut were: Beth Daniel (1994, 73-285); Michele Redman (1997, 72-284); Gloria Park (2002, 72-285); and Hee-Won Han (2003, 69-284). ... The record 72-hole score is 19-under 265 by Sorenstam in 1998. ... Prammanasudh and Amy Hung (73) were assessed two-stroke penalties for slow play on the par-3 16th after both birdied the hole.