Chuasiriporn is over and out, but improved 2nd round is a lesson

New pro finishes strong on 2-over day, misses cut

June 05, 1999|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

WEST POINT, Miss. -- When Jenny Chuasiriporn reached her ball after hitting her second shot on the par-5 10th hole in yesterday's second round of the 54th U.S. Women's Open, she thought about what might have been at Old Waverly. What would have happened had she hit that shot in Thursday's opening round?

"I probably would have still been in the tournament," Chuasiriporn said later.

Had Chuasiriporn's shot stayed in the fairway, instead of hitting a cart path and going out of bounds, she might still be in the hunt. Chuasiriporn hit a different shot with a different club this time and nearly made birdie, her 15-foot putt spinning out of the cup, instead of a triple bogey.

The 21-year-old from Timonium regained some of the rhythm she had going in the first nine holes of her first professional tournament in the last 13 holes of the second round. After a shaky start that included bogeys on three of the first five holes, Chuasiriporn finished at 2-over-par 74.

Though a two-round total of 7-over 151 caused her to miss the cut for the first time in her three Opens, Chuasiriporn came away with more than a few positive memories and important lessons she will carry with her onto the Futures Tour and in the three LPGA events she will play next month.

"I don't really feel that I'm ready for the big-time yet," Chuasiriporn said with her usual candor. "I want to play more so that I can put three good rounds together. I haven't done it all spring. I think the Futures Tour will be a good steppingstone for me."

After taking next week off, Chuasiriporn will play her first event on the new Futures Tour in familiar territory, returning to Durham, N.C. The recent graduate will stay in the same apartment she lived in during her senior year at Duke. For the next two days, Chuasiriporn and her family will stay here and watch the rest of the tournament.

"There's a six-night minimum on the condo," kidded Joey Chuasiriporn, who caddied for his sister.

Jenny Chuasiriporn might be a little hard on herself in assessing her game in relation to those already on the LPGA Tour. She certainly showed some resiliency on the back nine, making three impressive par saves and a birdie before missing a 2 1/2-foot putt for bogey on the par-3 17th.

Her 40-footer for par after hitting in the woods on the par-4 16th came shortly after she had made a 20-footer for par on the par-4 14th, getting up and down from right of a cart path and then from a greenside bunker. The long putt brought back memories of last year's 40-footer to force a playoff at the Open with Se Ri Pak.

"I thought about it," said Chuasiriporn. "This one wasn't as big."

Chuasiriporn said she also learned something watching her two playing partners, Nancy Lopez and Chris Tschetter. She saw Lopez play with the grace that has marked her Hall of Fame career despite missing the cut at the Open for the second straight year. Tschetter showed resiliency by hanging on to make the cut at even-par.

"It couldn't have been more perfect," said Chuasiriporn. "I had two real experienced pros. Their composure and their competitiveness really showed."

So did Chuasiriporn's. As he followed his star pupil around in the heat yesterday, teaching pro Ted Sheftic saw something that he believes will bode well for her.

"That's what I'm proud of -- she didn't quit," said Sheftic, who has taught Chuasiriporn for the past eight years. "She's a fighter."

Lopez was left with a similar impression.

"She stumbled a little, but she kept picking herself up," said Lopez. "Once she gets out on our tour, she'll add a lot. I like to see young players with her attitude."

Chuasiriporn's day

Second-round score: 2-over-par 74

Hole by hole:

Hole Par Score Hole Par Score

1. 4 5 10. 5 5

2. 5 5 11. 4 4

3. 3 3 12. 3 3

4. 4 5 13. 4 3

5. 4 5 14. 4 4

6. 4 3 15. 5 5

7. 3 4 16. 4 4

8. 4 3 17. 3 4

9. 5 5 18. 4 4

Out: 36 38 In: 36 36

Best shot: Chuasiriporn's approach on the par-4 13th landed 1 1/2 feet from the cup. It turned out to be her last birdie in this year's Open.

Worst shot: Her drive on the par-4 first hole hooked into the woods. She was forced to chip out and nearly holed out a bunker shot for par. But it started a stretch of three bogeys in five holes.

Quote about the round: "I feel like I'm pretty lucky. I feel like there are a lot worse things I could be doing than playing golf. Being unhappy is a waste of time."

Pub Date: 6/05/99

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