NEWTON, Mass. -- Yesterday's matchup between Shauna Estes and Jenny Chuasiriporn couldn't have been much closer. Both entered the 97th U.S. Women's Amateur Championship as favorites, but with their high scores in the qualifying rounds (Estes 154, Chuasiriporn 155), both finished in the middle of the pack and drew each other in the first round of match play.
Yesterday, the two entered the 18th hole even. After two shots, both were about 15 feet from the pin for birdie. All week long, players had been saying that if they were up on the green, they were in trouble.
Chuasiriporn was up on the green, and the Timonium resident's putt for birdie just missed to the right, but rolled down another 15 feet, setting up a tough shot for par. Once again, she set up, but the ball went wide right. Estes was below the hole, and her birdie attempt left her 3 feet short for par. Her tap-in clinched the match.
"I expected to play a good player," said Chuasiriporn. "I just hoped it would not be this early. I get excited for tough matches."
Chuasiriporn had a lot to be excited about. Estes was named both the Southeastern Conference's Freshman and Player of the Year in 1997. Having just completed her freshman year at Georgia, she had also won the SEC championship individual title, the Liz Murphy Collegiate Classic and the Ben Hogan Invitational.
After 10 holes, Estes was 3-up.
"I missed a 1-foot putt on nine, and I let that carry over to 10," said Chuasiriporn.
But Estes' tee shot on the 11th went out of bounds, followed by a birdie on 12 by Chuasiriporn, and the lead was one. Chuasiriporn continued in the hunt and finally caught Estes with a birdie on 15.
Both players had chances on 16 and 17, but neither capitalized, setting up the climactic 18th.
"I ended up three-putting on nine, and then I lost 10," said Chuasiriporn. "I usually don't get upset. I was almost too confident on nine. I knew 3-up was a lot, but it was possible if I kept plugging. After 11, I knew I was right back in it. Then I birdied 12 and 15. I did it when I needed to."
Leland Beckel, of Bethesda, and Sally Voss Krueger also lost their matches, 1-up. Beckel had entered the 18th hole tied with Robin Cook, but could not match Cook's birdie.
"I'm pleased with the tournament as a whole," said Beckel. "But I didn't play well today."
Pub Date: 8/07/97