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Chuasiriporn, Pak Lead Women’s Open

July 5, 1998

KOHLER, Wis. (AP) _ Jenny Chuasiriporn’s 30-foot putt for birdie on No. 18 and Se Ri Pak’s missed six-footer for birdie on the same hole Sunday forced an 18-hole playoff between the 20-year-olds at the 53rd U.S. Women’s Open.

After Chuasiriporn’s dramatic putt brought her into a tie for the lead at six over for the tournament, Pak, playing in the next, and final, twosome, missed hers, setting up the playoff.

They will tee off Monday morning for another 18 holes on the unforgiving Blackwolf Run Golf Course, where only one golfer has broken par since Friday.

Pak, who began the day with a one-stroke lead, finished with a 5-over 76 for a 6-over 290 for 72 holes. Chuasiriporn, who had a closing 72, started the round four strokes back, tied for fourth.

Chuasiriporn, who will be a senior at Duke next fall, took fifth at the NCAA championships at Madison two months ago. She will try to become the first amateur to win an Open since Catherine LaCorte in 1967. Her 72-hole total is the lowest ever for an amateur in an Open.

Pak, who won the LPGA Championship in May, seeks to become the first rookie to win two majors since Juli Inkster captured the Nabisco Dinah Shore and du Maurier Ltd. Classic in 1984. The last woman to win consecutive majors was Meg Mallon in 1991.

The drama at 18 capped an unbelievable round in which Pak, Chuasiriporn and several others, including Mhairi McKay, Liselotte Neumann, Chris Johnson and Pat Hurst all had a shot at winning the tournament.

When her improbable birdie putt on 18 fell, Chuasiriporn put her left hand over her mouth in amazement, then double high-fived her caddy and brother, Joey.

``Just incredible,″ Chuasiriporn said moments later. ``Wow.″

And she couldn’t have been more shocked when the unflappable Pak, who had seemed impervious to pressure through 71 holes, missed her short putt for par by about two inches.

``I (gave it) my best one,″ Pak said with a shrug. ``I just play my game, I’m really happy.″

Neumann parred 18 for a 76 and finished one shot out of the playoff, which will begin at 11 a.m. CDT Monday.

Danielle Ammaccapane, who began the round seven strokes back, shot an even-par 71 to finish at 8-over 292, along with Hurst and Johnson.

Chuasiriporn also was the low amateur at last year’s Open in Pumpkin Ridge in Oregon _ but that was a tie for 56th. LaCorte is the only amateur ever to win the biggest event in women’s golf.

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