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In the end, Se Ri Pack of South Korea bested amateur Jenny Chuasiriporn of Timonium, Md., to win the 53rd U.S. Women's Open.

But not until they had played two extra holes, in addition to an 18-hole playoff, on top of a 72-hole championship. Ninety-two holes in all, spread over five days. No matter how it finished, this Women's Open promised to be an historic moment between 20-year-olds. It was.

Pak, who became the youngest-ever Women's Open Champion, ended the eighth playoff in the history of the championship with a 15-foot birdie putt on the second hole of sudden death. It was her second consecutive victory in a women's major.

Pak and Chuasiriporn, a student at Duke University, had tied at 6-over-par 290 for the 72-hole championship Sunday. Both shot 2-over 73s in the 18-hole playoff Monday, setting up the first sudden-death finish in a Women's Open.

More than 8,000 spectators were on hand at Blackwolf Run for the playoff, boosting attendance to a record 123,000 for the Open. The previous mark was 109,000 in 1997.

It was Chuasiriporn, in her attempt to become only the second amateur to win the Women's Open, who broke quickest in the playoff, using three birdies to take a four-shot lead after five holes. A triple-bogey-6 at No. 6 cost her most of the early advantage, but she maintained her lead until the 12th, where Pak's second consecutive birdie finally squared things.

Pak took the lead with another birdie two holes later, then gave it back with a bogey at the 15th. Still tied when the reached the 18th tee, Pak made what would seem the crucial error, as her drive rolled through the fairway into the hazard on the left. After considering for several minutes whether to take a one-stroke penalty and drop, Pak shed her shoes and socks, waded in and punched out to safety. From there she knocked her ball on the green and two-putted for bogey.

When Chuasiriporn, who a day earlier had forced the playoff with a dramatic 40-foot birdie putt on the same green, could not get up and down for par from the edge of the green, the players moved to the 10th tee and sudden death.

Kim Williams and Laura Davies put up a pair of 68s to lead after the first round. Pak, along with Leslie Spalding and Pat Hurst, was a shot back Thursday evening, but by the end of the second round she had used seven one-putt greens to climb into the lead at three-under 139, one ahead of Liselotte Neumann. Chuasiriporn was tied for seventh, four back.

At the end of the third round, Pak still had the lead at one-over 214. Mhairi McKay, an LPGA conditional player competing in her first Open, and Neumann were at 215. Chuasiriporn and Chris Johnson were at 218.

The USGA accepted a record 925 entries. Of the 14 amateurs in the field, five joined fifty-seven professionals at 8-over-par or better to qualify for the final 36 holes.


Starts - 12

Best Finish - Winner in 1998

Rds - 47

Cuts Made - 11

Top 3 - 3

Top 5 - 5

Top 10 - 5

Top 25 - 8

Avg. - 72.51

Scores In 60s - 12

Rds Under Par - 15

Earnings - $1,122,062.00
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