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Sherri: I'm just happy to play



Published: Sun, July 29, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Sherri Steinhauer appears to be breaking out of her season-long slump, positioned only three strokes off the pace.

By BRIAN RICHESSON

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

VIENNA -- It would have been much easier for Sherri Steinhauer to quit. She elected to stay and fight.

"With the kind of year I've been having, I'm just happy to be here," said Steinhauer of her 4-under par 68 Saturday that put her in contention to win the Giant Eagle LPGA Classic at Squaw Creek Country Club.

At 7-under 137 after two rounds, Steinhauer is positioned alone in third place, three shots back of leader Se Ri Pak and one back of Tammie Green.

"This is the first time I've been in the press room all year, after having some good years previously," said Steinhauer, a Madison, Wis., native who has five tournament victories, including one major, in a 15-year career.

In contrast: With the successes she had last year, Steinhauer's struggles in 2001 have come as a surprise. She competed in 19 of the first 20 events of last season, which included 11 top-10 finishes and a best finish of tied for third.

So what gives?

"This year I've developed a bad habit in my swing, and my putting has been horrendous," Steinhauer said.

"I'm just trying to find my way out of it."

Steinhauer has missed five cuts in 18 events this season, with her best finish a tie for 11th at the Chick-Fil-A Charity Championship in Stockbridge, Ga., in May.

"I've been doing my best to fight my way out of it," she said. "There were even times when I wanted to quit, but that's not the kind of person I am. You never know what the year's going to bring."

If Steinhauer gets her wish, the year will bring her first victory today.

Two eagles: She put herself in that position with a round that included two eagles -- on the 486-yard par-5 eighth hole and the 452-yard par-5 13th.

"Three eagles in two days; there is a little luck involved," said Steinhauer, who also eagled No. 5 in the first round Friday.

Her three birdies were canceled out by three bogeys.

"I wasn't happy with the bogeys, but I've been out here long enough to know that you have to go forward and forget about it," said Steinhauer, who bogeyed Nos. 15 and 16 before coming back with a birdie at 17.

Tee-off mates: Steinhauer, who played at Squaw Creek in 1992, admitted that she'll be feeling nervous today when she tees off with Pak and Green at 10 a.m.

"I haven't been in this position in a long time," she said.

No matter how today's final round unfolds, Steinhauer is keeping everything in perspective.

"Everything happens for a reason," she said.

"This has been a humbling experience, and you should never take anything for granted."




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