Chuasiriporn wins gallery at Amateur Timonium resident 7 back of medalist in qualifying round

August 13, 1998|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- It's not difficult to tell who is the featured attraction in the 98th U.S. Women's Amateur at Barton Hills Country Club.

Jenny Chuasiriporn has been pictured in ads publicizing the event and was the only player afforded a gallery of ropes during yesterday's second round of medal qualifying. Then again, the 21-year-old star-in-the-making from Timonium was the only player who attracted much of an audience.

While former Arizona State All-American Kellee Booth might be the player to beat after she continued her recent Curtis Cup performance by being the medalist at the Amateur, Chuasiriporn is clearly the player to watch.

"It's really exciting to see so many people interested in golf -- and to watch me," Chuasiriporn said, after an even-par 72 put her at 1-over 145, seven shots behind Booth. "There are so many players just as good as me. I used to find it boring to watch, so I appreciate them coming out."

The crowds will certainly continue to grow if Chuasiriporn advances in match play, which begins today with the first two rounds.

Chuasiriporn was among three Maryland players of the 64 to qualify for match play. Andrea Kraus, of Pikesville, who plays out of Woodholme Country Club, gained one of the final 10 spots among 13 who played off at 7-over 151. Leland Beckel, of Bethesda, shot 74-150 to qualify.

Kraus fell into the playoff with a second-round 77 that ended with a double-bogey. She waited more than six hours for the playoff, then parred the second playoff hole after missing a 3-footer for par on the first hole. It marks the third time in six attempts at the Amateur that Kraus advanced to match play.

"I spent most of the day worrying," said Kraus, 37, who will play Elaine Ratcliffe of England this morning. "It was a rough experience, but it was also kind of fun. I practiced a little, we had some putting contests, like putting across the green, then I went out and missed a putt on the first hole."

While Kraus will try to win an opening-round match for the second time, Chuasiriporn's goal is to advance further this year than she did in her two previous attempts. The Duke senior, who will play veteran amateur Marilyn Hardy of Houston, lost in the second round in 1995 and in the first round last year.

"It's important for me to see I've improved," said Chuasiriporn, who halved her only singles match in the recent Curtis Cup. "Hopefully, this tournament will be better than last year's."

Despite finishing as the low amateur in the 1997 U.S. Women's Open, Chuasiriporn was still considered something of an unknown when she went to last year's Amateur. But her performance in last month's Women's Open has changed her profile considerably.

Her dramatic 45-foot birdie putt on the final hole of regulation, and her subsequent 20-hole sudden-death playoff loss to Se Ri Pak of South Korea has clearly made Chuasiriporn the center of attention here and one of the favorites to win the title.

"I guess I kind of expected it," Chuasiriporn said of the gallery, which grew to around 100 through her first nine holes yesterday.

Chuasiriporn drove here from Baltimore last weekend, stopping in Columbus, Ohio, to pick up Duke teammate Kalen Anderson along the way. Anderson caddied for Chuasiriporn yesterday after a second-round 80 knocked her out of contention to qualify.

Chuasiriporn didn't know whether she would carry her own bag today or if Anderson would continue. There is also a possibility that her brother Joey, who caddied for her at the U.S. Open, would come out if she made it to Saturday's quarterfinals.

"If I make it to the weekend, they might be coming," Chuasiriporn said of her family, who followed her at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wis.

She definitely has a plan to get that far.

"Par is your friend out here," she said.

Notes: Mallory Crosland, of Bethesda, a senior at Vanderbilt University, shot a second-round 80 to finish at 155. Former area star Sally Krueger, who now lives in San Francisco, followed an opening-round 82 with a 73 and also missed the cut.

Pub Date: 8/13/98

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