HERE'S to Jenny Chuasiriporn, Baltimore's gift to golf. Monday's playoff between the co-winners of the first 72 holes of the U.S. Women's Open championship in Kohler, Wis., was one of the great matches in the game.
Two 20-year-olds, Ms. Chuasiriporn and Se Ri Pak of South Korea, squared off in this classic sports struggle.
They were well under the age of the youngest previous winner of the women's U.S. Open. Ms. Chuasiriporn turns 21 today.
Se Ri Pak is South Korea's leading sports celebrity. In her rookie year on the U.S. pro tour she has taken the sport by storm, winning the LPGA Championship in May.
Ms. Chuasiriporn is an amateur, daughter of Thai immigrants who run a local restaurant, the pride of Timonium and Notre Dame Prep and a star on Duke University's golf squad.
Both give to the women's game the impact of exciting new players that Tiger Woods and Ernie Els give to the men's golf game.
On Sunday, Ms. Chuasiriporn was the one with nerves of steel. Coming from four behind, she sank a 45-foot putt on the final hole, which put her in a tie for the lead when Ms. Pak missed a 10-footer on the same hole.
Ms. Pak won another $267,500 for this championship. As an amateur, Ms. Chuasiriporn would not have been eligible to take the money.
They played for the trophy.
They went to the 20th hole, having tied after 18. On the second sudden death hole, Ms. Pak had the steelier nerves and won it.
Still, a star is born. What an endorsement of the nutritive value of the Thai cooking at her parents' York Road restaurant.
Pub Date: 7/09/98