Pak leads windy, ugly U.S. Open Amateur Chuasiriporn is four back as course batters game's best


KOHLER, Wis. -- The course at Blackwolf Run played so frighteningly yesterday in the third round of the U.S. Women's Open, its name should have been changed to Werewolf Run.

A fierce wind gusted to speeds often exceeding 25 mph, thus affecting and, in some cases, intimidating the world's best players. Golf shots blew off line and into water hazards, or bounded off mounds and into trouble. Woods were the order of the day on approach shots to some par-4's. Not a single player matched or broke par for the first time sine 1983.

But Se Ri Pak, the 20-year-old rookie from South Korea who is seeking her second consecutive major championship, showed steely resolve once again. She overcame a pair of three-putt greens on the back nine and held steady to take a 1-stroke lead at 1-over 214 entering today's final round.

Jenny Chuasiriporn, an All-American who will be a senior at Duke University in the fall and attended Notre Dame Prep, posted a 4-over-par 75 to maintain a tie for fourth place, four strokes behind Pak, who also shot 75.

"It was brutal out there," Chuasiriporn said. "I mean, just the brain energy that you needed to use to stay calm in the wind and keep your rhythm, it really wears on you after a while. It was a long day out there."

Chuasiriporn, a Timonium resident who plays out of Hunt Valley Golf Club, needs a 1-over-par 72 today to break the record of 291 for best amateur score in the Open.

"I don't know if it has hit me yet," said Chuasiriporn, who will turn 21 later this month. "I don't really know if I realize what's going on. Wow, [today] is just going to be a blur."

At last year's U.S. Open in Oregon, she was low amateur. She opened with a 70, added a 74 to make the cut, then shot 78-75 to finish at 297. Of eight amateurs to qualify, only two made the cut.

Mhairi McKay, an LPGA Tour rookie from Scotland, grabbed the lead with three consecutive birdies on the back nine before fading. But her 73 tied her for best round of the day and tied her for second with Liselotte Neumann at 215.

Neumann had an up-and-down day. She held or shared the lead for the first 11 holes before a run of five straight bogeys. But she closed strong, with a birdie at 16 and a chip-in par at 18, for a 75.

The 6,412-yard course at Blackwolf Run played to a stroke average of 77.89, almost two shots higher than the combined average for the first two days. Sixteen players shot 80 or better, including LPGA Hall of Famer Pat Bradley (83), three-time Open champion Hollis Stacy (82), Terry-Jo Myers (80), Emilee Klein (80) and Lorie Kane (82).

Annika Sorenstam, who had won her last two starts entering the Women's Open and was considered a favorite here, needed to shoot 1-under on the back nine just to break 80, making an 8-foot par putt on the last hole for a 79. Sorenstam's 44 on the front included a quintuple bogey 9 at the 402-yard third hole.

"The wind makes it really tough. It's almost unplayable, I think," said Sorenstam, who won the Open in 1995 and 1996. "It's tricky out there. You're never finished until the ball is in the hole."

Pak, winner of the McDonald's LPGA Championship in May in Wilmington, shot 1-over on the front side. But her calm exterior was jolted at the long par-5 10th, where she visited two bunkers and had a 15-foot putt for par. Pak came up two feet short, then pushed the bogey putt two feet the other way, making double bogey.

Pak also three-putted the 13th hole for bogey before composing herself and draining a 30-foot birdie putt at No. 14 to go back to even-par for the championship. Despite a bogey at the 18th, she ended the day the same way she started it -- in first place.

Pak also could become the youngest Women's Open champion ever, at 20 years, 9 months and 7 days. Catherine Lacoste was 22 years and 5 days old when she won the 1967 Women's Open.

Chuasiriporn, too, has had a busy time. In the past year, she's won the women's Eastern Amateur tournament, qualified for the U.S. Women's Amateur and made the final of the Women's North and South. At Duke, she won four individual college titles, placed fifth in the NCAA women's championships and was the only player to be named Rolex College Golfer of the Month twice.

Pub Date: 7/05/98

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