Defending champion Kelli Kuehne, 19, of McKinney, Texas, won the 96th U.S.
Women's Amateur Championship, defeating Marisa Baena, 19, of Pereira, Colombia,
2 and 1, in the 36-hole final at Firethorn Golf Club.
The match ended on the 146-yard, par-3 35th hole. Baena, who was 1 down, pulled
her 8-iron shot into a water hazard and made a double bogey. Kuehne hit her
ball onto the green and was conceded a par and the match.
Both golfers exhibited streaks of brilliant play. Kuehne birdied three of
the first four holes to lead, 3 up. Baena birdied the fifth and ninth holes
to pull within one hole, then eagled the par-4 10th hole by sinking an 80-yard
wedge shot to square the match.
Kuehne, however, ended the morning round with two pars, a birdie, and a conceded
birdie on the final four holes to go 3 up.
With her lead reduced to 2 up at the 28th hole, Kuehne won the hole with a
par and kept the lead until the match ended. She repeatedly sank putts ranging
from six to 35 feet to squelch her opponent.
Kuehne's route to the Robert Cox Cup, the trophy for the U.S. Women's Amateur
Championship, included a 3 and 2 semifinal victory over Jenny Lee of Austin,
Texas. Lee had been one of the three co-medalists in the 36-hole qualifying
at Firethorn with rounds of 69-72-141. Tying Lee for medalist honors were Grace
Park of Phoenix, Ariz., (69-72-141), and Kellee Booth of Coto de Caza, Calif.,
Baena was in the final by virtue of a 3 and 2 semi-final win over Joellyn
Erdmann of Little Chute, Wis.
Erdmann had been a starring player in what was clearly the most dramatic match
of the championship, a quarterfinal battle against Grace Park that ended on
the 27th hole.
In winning her second straight Women's Amateur, Kuehne became the 11th player
to win back-to-back titles. Earlier in the summer she also captured the British
Ladies' Open Amateur Championship to achieve another historical ranking. Kuehne
is one of only eight players to have held both national titles at the same time.
Those players are Dorothy Campbell (1909 British, 1909 U.S.), Pamela Barton
(1936 British, 1936 U.S.), Babe Didrikson Zaharias (1946 U.S., 1947 British),
Louise Suggs (1947 U.S., 1948 British), Barbara McIntire (1959 U.S., 1960 British),
Catherine LaCoste (1969 U.S., 1969 British), Carol Semple Thompson (1973 U.S.,
1974 British), and Kuehne (1996 U.S., 1996 British).
"Starting with the 28th hole, you could feel the heat on everything you did,"
said Kuehne. "I knew that hole was big. I just tried to take advantage of the
opportunities she gave me."
"I tried my best to win," said Baena, "but I couldn't because she putted better
than I did."