No week of the year honours a greater selection of AIG Women’s Open Champions than the fourth week of December, when three of the finest golfers in the history of the event celebrate their birthday.
Falling either side of Christmas, Karrie Webb (21st Dec), Sophie Gustafson (27th Dec) and Sherri Steinhauer (27th Dec) all celebrate their birthdays within close proximity, but that is far from the only factor connecting the trio.
From 1995 to 2002, Webb, Steinhauer and Gustafson won six of the eight Women’s Opens held, accumulating four additional top-10s between them. This feat is made all the more impressive considering Steinhauer only made her debut in the event in 1997, while Gustafson finished as the runner-up to Steinhauer in 1998 in her debut appearance and rookie year on the LPGA Tour.
The dominance of Webb, Steinhauer and Gustafson around the turn of the century in the Women’s Open was considerable. Webb took home three titles, in 1995, 1997 and 2002, Steinhauer prevailed in 1998, 1999 and 2006, and Gustafson won the championship in 2000.
Webb and Steinhauer are the only two women ever to win the event on three occasions, and Gustafson, despite winning just once, also boasts one of the best records in the history of the Women's Open, recording three runner-up finishes, a third-place result and two additional top-10s in her career.
The three had their fair share of individual battles too, in particular Gustafson and Steinhauer, who share a birthday. Steinhauer won twice at Royal Lytham & St Annes, both times with Gustafson finishing runner-up, while the pair also traded blows in an exciting event in 1999, which Steinhauer won by a stroke with a closing birdie, beating Gustafson, who dropped two shots late on, by three.
Webb and Gustafson also showed remarkable consistency, recording at least a top-10 finish between them in all bar four events from 1997 to 2012.
Meanwhile, the players share interesting distinctions in regards to the courses they performed well on. When Steinhauer and Gustafson finished first and second respectively in the 1998 and 2006 Women’s Opens, they were both held at Royal Lytham, while Gustafson won her lone title at Royal Birkdale, the course she finished runner-up at in 2005.
Both Webb and Steinhauer also claimed a title on The Duke’s course at Woburn in the late 1990s, and Webb enjoyed her time at Royal Lytham too, recording a runner-up and two additional-top 5 finishes at the venue.
All in all, the three players put together an astonishing record at the AIG Women’s Open, and could all stake a claim for being the greatest player in the history of the event.