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British Open Golf Glove

Golf glove worn by Sherri Steinhauer of Madison, Wisconsin to win the 2006 Weetabix Women's British Open, August 3-6, 2006.
(Museum object #2007.81.2)

As she removed this glove from her hand after chipping out of a greenside bunker at the 18th hole, Wisconsin's Sherri Steinhauer was about to win the 2006 Weetabix Women's British Open, her second title in a major championship. Her nearly flawless third round had given Steinhauer a three shot lead on the field, and she had managed another strong round on the final day at the Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club, the same course where she had won her first British Open title in 1998.

While the British Open has long been considered one of the four annual "major" tournaments in men's golf, the tournament did not gain that status on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tour until 2001. So, while Steinhauer had won the British Open in back-to-back years in 1998 and 1999, her 2006 win meant a great deal more given its major status. Steinhauer won one previous major at the du Maurier Ltd Classic in Canada in 1992.

Born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin where she still lives while not on tour, Steinhauer's early career included three consecutive wins at the Wisconsin State Junior Championship from 1978 to 1980. In college, she continued to excel in golf at the University of Texas where she earned All-American honors as a senior in 1985. That same year Steinhauer qualified for the LPGA tour on her first attempt by winning the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament to earn exempt status for the 1986 season.

Despite her long and successful career on the LPGA tour, where she had garnered six tournament wins, Steinhauer arrived at Royal Lytham for the 2006 Open somewhat quietly. Steinhauer had only one victory since her 1999 win at the British Open and, at 43, was one of the older players in competition and ranked number 66 in the world rankings. The buzz at the beginning of the Open focused instead on 16-year-old phenom Michelle Wie, who had finished in the top five in each of her first five major professional tournaments and who seemed poised to break out with a victory.

Once the tournament began, however, Wie quickly fell back in the middle of the field while Steinhauer shot solid rounds of golf during the opening two days of the tournament to keep herself in contention at 1-under-par. On Saturday, Steinhauer continued her steady play on the front nine holes before firing a remarkable 5-under-par on the back nine, including four birdies and an eagle on the par-5 15th hole where she made a 50-foot putt. She finished the day at 7-under for the tournament, a full three shots ahead of her competition.

Suddenly, Steinhauer found herself at the center of attention. "I think it's funny," she noted to the enthusiastic press after her success on Saturday, "because when I won back in '98, I never even made a trip into the media room until after I won." With a sizeable lead, Steinhauer had to overcome the pressure of leading the Open and put in one more good day to earn the win.

It rained during much of Sunday's final round, but Steinhauer managed to hold her 3-shot lead with more bogey-free golf until the final hole. There, after hitting her tee shot, Steinhauer thought she might be in danger of losing what she believed was only a 2-shot lead, until her caddie told her she actually led by four shots. "I just kind of went limp at that point. I was in shock," recalled Steinhauer. "I would have liked to have made a par, obviously, on that last hole, but I hit a really good bunker shot and just missed the putt." Steinhauer finished her round with her first bogey in 48 holes, but still won the championship with three shots to spare at 7-under-par.

"That's what gives me the biggest thrill – that this is now a major. No longer will I have to bite my lip when people just assume that my two other Crystal Vases [the award for winning the Women's British Open] were majors as well," Steinhauer told the press after her victory. "I feel like I'm living a dream. This is incredible for me. I was extremely nervous at the beginning of the day. I wanted it bad. It just means so much for me to win it as a major. Juli [Inkster] gave me a hug before I started and wished me luck and I wished her luck. Us old fogeys have to stick together."

In addition to playing on the LPGA tour, Steinhauer also dedicates time to young golfers through such endeavors as the "Golf Wisconsin" program, which helps thousands of children play golf for free and attend instructional clinics. The program formed in 2004 during the heightened interest in golf in Wisconsin surrounding the 2004 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits golf course near Sheboygan, Wisconsin. When Steinhauer came on board, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle said of her, "Sherri's love for the game of golf is infectious. She is not only a world-class player, but a wonderful ambassador for Wisconsin's world-class golf courses."

[Sources: The Golf Channel feature on 2006 Weetabix Women's British Open online at www.thegolfchannel.com; "Sherri Steinhauer Wins the Weetabix Women's British Open, Qualifies for the ADT Championship" online at www.golfbusinesswire.com; "Weetabix Women's British Open" online at www.lpga.com; "Sherri Steinhauer" biography (2007 LPGA Tour Biographies), online at www.lpga.com; Weetabix Women's British Open images courtesy of Tristan Jones (www.tristanjonesphotography.com).]

SFR


Posted on August 02, 2007

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