Helped by a friendly kick from a greenside bank yesterday in Woburn, England, Sherri Steinhauer won the Women's British Open for the second year in a row.

The 36-year-old American appeared headed for a playoff with Sweden's Annika Sorenstam when she pitched her third shot from 115 yards toward the 18th green.

The ball landed on a bank at the top of a bunker at the front right of the green, then went speeding toward the flag. It ended six feet from the hole and Steinhauer punched the air in celebration after holing the birdie putt.

Steinhauer, who won last year on her first outing at Royal Lytham, triumphed again on her first appearance at Woburn after that putt gave her an even-par 73 for the final round and a 9-under total of 283. She became the first player since Debbie Massey in 1980-81 to win the title two years in a row.

SENIORS: In Ada, Mich., Christy O'Connor Jr. shot a 4-under-par 68 to win the Foremost Insurance Championship by four strokes, finishing the 54-hole tournament at 11-under 205.

Jim Thorpe, John Jacobs and 1998 champion George Archer tied for second. Thorpe matched O'Connor's final-round 68, and Jacobs and Archer both shot 70s.

O'Connor -- a native of Galway, Ireland, who won the Senior British Open three weeks ago at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland -- opened the final round tied with South African John Bland.

The victory was O'Connor's second on the Senior PGA Tour this season. He also won the State Farm Senior Classic in Columbia in early July. The victory also increased his earnings to more than $500,000 this year and moved him into the top 20 on the tour's money list.

"I am so, so happy. I don't think I've been so happy in my whole life," said O'Connor, who bogeyed the final hole to miss his personal goal of closing with a 67.

"I would have been happy here with a top-15 finish," he said. "I concentrated today on hitting the ball to the proper side of the pin so that I would be putting uphill."

O'Connor sealed his victory with an eagle on the 518-yard, par-5 17th hole at Egypt Valley Country Club. A driver and a 5-wood left him with a 12-foot putt for eagle.

"I thought when I first came over here that the [U.S.] players would be more used to faster greens than I would be," O'Connor said. "As the greens get quicker -- and they did get quicker out here -- you can't charge your putts. I kept lagging my putts, but you can hole one if you go that way."

EUROPE: Italy's Costantino Rocca shot a 2-under 70 for a two-stroke victory in the West of Ireland Classic in Galway, keeping alive his slim hopes of making the European Ryder Cup team. Rocca finished at 12-under 276, two shots ahead of Ireland's Padraig Harrington, who closed with an even-par 72.

Rocca, with his first win on the European Tour in two years, could make the Ryder Cup team as a wild-card pick with another good tournament this week at the BMW International in Munich. He is a veteran of three Ryder Cups and beat Tiger Woods in a crucial match two years ago in Valderrama, Spain.

The key moment in the final round yesterday came when Harrington, who also could make the Ryder team, took six on the par-5 16th, a hole that was yielding birdies all week. That gave Rocca a one-shot lead going down the stretch as he finished with a 40-foot birdie putt to seal victory.