American Sherri Steinhauer claimed a third Weetabix Women's British Open title today with an impressive final even-par round of 72 on day of heavy showers at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
The oldest champion at the age of 43, she finished on 281 and was a comfortable three-shot winner over Sweden's former champion Sophie Gustafson and American Cristie Kerr, who double-bogeyed the last for a 71.
Steinhauer equalled Australia's Karrie Webb in winning the title for a third time and she is the first to win a major using a long putter.
American Juli Inkster and Mexico's Lorena Ochoa, who both shot 73, tied for fourth on three under par.
Kent's Karen Stupples set out for her final round three shots off the lead and in a tie for second and hoping to repeat her win at Sunningdale two years ago. She then shot 78 and slipped to joint-tenth on two over par, one ahead of Laura Davies, who had a 74.
Steinhauer won the title at Lytham in 1998 and retained it the following year at Woburn but this was the first time she had won the championship since it earned major status in 2001.
"The fact that it is now a major is the biggest thrill," she said after collecting the £160,000 prize.
"Right now, I'm on cloud nine. I was trying to stay calm all day and not think too far ahead. I'm delighted."
After a flawless 66 on Saturday, Steinhauer had a solid performance in the more testing conditions.
She birdied the fourth with an eight-foot putt and her only bogey came at the 18th when she hit her approach into a greenside bunker - her first dropped shot in 49 holes.
Kerr got to within one shot after three birdies in five holes from the 11th but she went through the green at the 16th and drove into a bunker in taking a double-bogey six at the last.
Gustafson, the 2000 champion at Birkdale and runner-up to Steinhauer in 1998, made two birdies in the first four holes but she also faltered on the back nine.
World No 1 Annika Sorenstam, who won the British Ppen title when the championship was last played at Lytham three years ago, had a very disappointing final round of 79 while 16-year-old Michelle Wie closed with a 74 for 294 and was joint 26th.
It is the first time this year that she has not finished in the top five at a major champion-ship. She was joint third at both the Kraft Nabisco Championship and the US Women's Open while she finished tied for fifth at the LPGA Championship.
In her career of 12 majors, it was also her worst showing since she finished 39th as a 13 year-old at the 2003 US Women's Open.