Kerr finds Zen ... will Open follow?

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The tournament and its champion stated their cases Sunday. Quite eloquently at that.

Hoping to survive the accountants' axe, the Michelob Ultra Open needed a show. A suitable-for-framing Mother's Day afternoon, compelling final round and charismatic winner provided the goods.

Aspiring to No. 1 in the world, Cristie Kerr needed a trophy. Shrewd course management, a renowned Zen doctor and a superb 3-wood made it happen.

Now things get interesting.

Will the corner-office types at Anheuser-Busch be swayed to renew support of an elite LPGA Tour event? Or was the Mich dead-tournament walking before the week began?

Can Kerr, the world's sixth-ranked player, supplant Lorena Ochoa as No. 1? Or are inner peace, deep breathing and self awareness not enough to overcome the occasional snap hook?

Kerr certainly looked the part Sunday in earning her 12th LPGA victory and second at Kingsmill. While gusty winds and evil pin placements flustered others, she carded a 1-under-par 70 to finish at 16-under, two clear of In-Kyung Kim.

"I feel like I'm just tapping into my potential," the 31-year-old Kerr said. "There's a long time that I didn't, but mental training really helps you believe in yourself. … As they say, the mud's coming off, and the gold's shining through underneath."

On and off the course. Kerr said she's "less stressed out" and a "better person" since connecting last year with psychologist Joe Parent, author of "Zen Golf."

"It's just the calming influence," said Kerr's husband, Erik Stevens. "It doesn't work for everybody, but for Cristie it's been very helpful. … It's worked wonders."

Kerr's composure was most evident, and beneficial, at the par-4 16th hole.

Standing in the middle of the fairway with a mid-iron and one-stroke lead, 20-year-old Song-Hee Kim fired at a sucker pin tucked in the back, left corner. The ball sailed dead left, 40 yards off target, and led to a double-bogey.

Kerr's playing partner, Lindsey Wright, also fired at the 16th flag. She landed in spinach-like rough just above a bunker and made bogey.

Kerr? She aimed for the middle of the green, found the fringe and two-putted for par.

"That's the toughest pin on the golf course," Kerr said. "You just can't go at that pin. Even if you're down one, you let someone else make the mistake on that pin."

Contrast that conservative approach to the prior hole. At the par-5 15th, Kerr laced a 3-wood 235 yards to the back fringe, from where she two-putted for birdie.

Mental training, indeed. Though you wouldn't think that a former U.S. Women's Open champion (2007) would need a refresher course.

"It's not a matter of not being mentally strong," Kerr said. "It's being mentally strong every single day … because it is a challenge to be able to do that every day. Tiger Woods has been seeing somebody since he was 4 or 5 years old and still works with them, so if he needs it, I certainly need it.

"Annika (Sorenstam) as well is somebody since a very young age she's been working with somebody because there's a lot of pressure out there, and if you can just learn how to deal with it and learn where to put it, it really doesn't affect you.

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