AUTHOR: PEEL

HED:Each golfer had one dream this weekend

By Niki Peel

Special to the Daily Journal

The world witnessed an entertaining show Sunday as Juli Inkster and Kelli Kuehne battled it out for the U.S. Women's Open championship.

Two players, two competitors, two great swings, but two very different styles captured the world's attention.

Inkster, the 17-year LPGA experienced player and mother of two, scorched the field with a last round 1-under par. As she fired through Old Waverly on the final day, she left Kuehne, the three-year LPGA player and bride-to-be, confused at the many birdie putts left short.

Besides the obvious difference in the two players - age and experience - there are countless differences in their style.

Kuehne, who can hardly suppress a smile, walked up to No. 1 tee box relaxed, excited and ready to have some fun.

Inkster marched to No. 1 with focus and direction at the job at hand.

Throughout the day, Kuehne, sporting the Nike logo, continuously smiled and thanked her many new-found fans. Even when she didn't make those short birdie putts.

Inkster, representing the Izod generation, was just as generous with her fans, but in a more stern, focused manor.

On hole No. 15, the very reachable par 5, Inkster was actually upset when she walked away with a par. It did not even occur to her that she was sitting on a 6-stroke lead. What was witnessed there was a ferocious competitor. Inkster didn't want to just win. She wanted to win by as much of a margin possible.

Kuehne tried to cut that margin, as any competitor would, with a birdie on the par 3, No. 17. In golf anything is possible. Even a five-stroke margin can be broken. Yes, the odds are against you, but when playing for an Open championship, you've got to believe in that possibility.

Kuehne, just as much of the competitor as Inkster, hoped for that possibility on No. 18. Unfortunately, Lake Waverly swallowed that hope when Kuehne's tee shot couldn't reach the fairway.

After Inkster's drive on No. 18 safely landed in the middle of the fairway, Kuehne said, "O.K. Juli, good shot." Great competitors know when the game is over. And they know how to handle the loss.

Inkster ran away with Open. Does this mean her style is the only style of a champion? Not necessarily The best of the best represent different generations, different supporters, different personalities, and different styles. The one thing they all have in common - they all want to win.

Regardless of the differences, Kuehne is just as much of a competitor as Inkster. Kuehne just doesn't have the trophy this week to prove it and Inkster does.

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