Sherri Steinhauer of the USA secured her third British Women?s Open title on Sunday firing a level par round of 72 to finish three strokes clear of her nearest challengers at Royal Lytham & St Annes in Lancashire. Her winning total of -7 left her clear of Swedish former champion Sophie Gustafson and Steinhauer?s fellow American Cristi Kerr.

The 43 year-old, who is based in Florida, had sixteen pars in her final round and just one bogey ? on the final hole with victory already assured. Her only birdie of the day came at the par-4 fourth, and the woman who lifted the title in 1998 (also at Lytham) and 1999 secured her second Major title. Steinhauser?s previous two wins in the event came before it was recognised as a Major.

Gustafson and Kerr both made early efforts to close the gap on their rival. Gustafson was buoyed by birdies on the first and the fourth, but couldn?t continue the pace and was eventually hindered terminally by three bogeys around the turn. Kerr?s round was even more fluctuating, with two double bogeys counterbalancing the six birdies that she carded in her final round of 71.

American teenager Michelle Wie carded a third consecutive round of 74 to finish at +6, while world number one Annika Sorenstam of Sweden fared even worse. The ten-time Major winner, who won the Women?s British Open the last time it was played at Lytham, suffered a back nine of 44 on Sunday. It contributed to a miserable final round of 79 and a final total of +7.

?That fact that this tournament is now a Major is the biggest thrill,? said Steinhauer, who was celebrating only her second win in six years.

?Right now I?m on cloud nine. I was trying to stay calm all day and not think too far ahead, but this is now such a wonderful feeling.?

Steinhauer now joins Australia?s Karrie Webb as the only three-time winners of the event.