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Playoff needed today at Open

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Jenny Chuasiriporn's 40-foot putt for birdie on No. 18 and Se Ri Pak's missed eight-footer for birdie on the same hole Sunday forced an 18-hole playoff between the 20-year-olds at the 53rd U.S. Women's Open.

After Chuasiriporn's dramatic putt brought her into a tie for the lead at six over for the tournament, Pak, playing in the next, and final, twosome, missed hers, setting up the playoff.They will tee off Monday morning for another 18 holes on the unforgiving Blackwolf Run Golf Course, where only one golfer has broken par since Friday.

Whichever one wins will be the youngest Open champion ever.

Pak, who began the day with a one-stroke lead, finished with a 5-over 76 for a 6-over 290 for 72 holes. Chuasiriporn, who had a closing 72, started the round four strokes back, tied for fourth.

Chuasiriporn, who will be a senior at Duke next fall, took fifth at the NCAA championships at Madison two months ago. She will try to become the first amateur to win an Open since Catherine LaCorte in 1967. Her 72-hole total is the lowest ever for an amateur in an Open.

Pak, who won the LPGA Championship in May, seeks to become the first rookie to win two majors since Juli Inkster captured the Nabisco Dinah Shore and du Maurier Ltd. Classic in 1984. The last woman to win consecutive majors was Meg Mallon in 1991.

The drama at 18 capped an unbelievable round in which Pak, Chuasiriporn and several others, including Mhairi McKay, Liselotte Neumann, Chris Johnson and Pat Hurst all had a shot at winning the tournament.

When her improbable birdie putt on 18 fell, Chuasiriporn put her left hand over her mouth in amazement, then double high-fived her caddy and brother, Joey.

"Just incredible," Chuasiriporn said moments later. "Wow."

And she couldn't have been more shocked when the unflappable Pak, who had seemed impervious to pressure through 71 holes, missed her short putt for par by about two inches.

"I (gave it) my best one," Pak said with a shrug. "I just play my game, I'm really happy."

Chuasiriporn said she was calm on the final holes of the fourth round.

"I really wasn't nervous - maybe on a couple putts coming down the stretch," she said. "I really did have nothing to lose but I kept thinking, `Wow, I still have chance to win.' I didn't know I was tied. I was in the scoring trailer and I thought she was in the lead by two."

Neumann parred 18 for a 76 and finished one shot out of the playoff, which will begin at 11 a.m. CDT Monday.

"It was a disappointing day," Neumann said. "I didn't get anything going today. It was a long day out there. I didn't make any birdies; it's difficult to win an Open with no birdies."

Danielle Ammaccapane, who began the round seven strokes back, shot an even-par 71 to finish at 8-over 292, along with Hurst and Johnson .

Chuasiriporn also was the low amateur at last year's Open in Pumpkin Ridge in Oregon - but that was a tie for 56th. LaCorte is the only amateur ever to win the biggest event in women's golf.

The last playoff at the Open was in 1992, when Patty Sheehan defeated Inkster by two strokes at Oakmont, Pa.

Pak began the final round Sunday with a one-stroke lead over McKay and Neumann but she carded three bogeys and a double-bogey on the front nine, and the steady Chuasiriporn took the lead with an even-par 35 at the turn.

McKay, a 23-year-old from Scotland who was trying to become the first golfer to win the Open on her first attempt since Kathy Cornelius in 1956, took the lead at three over early on the front nine.

But her triple-bogey on No. 7, where it took her three shots to escape a bunker, and a bogey on No. 8 left her with a 78 and 293 total.

Pak's birdie on 14 tied her with Chuasiriporn, who then bogeyed 15 and 17 to fall two shots back.

As she was waiting to putt on 18, Pak's bogey on the par-3 17th was posted on the leaderboard and suddenly, Chuasiriporn was putting from 40 feet for a share of the lead.

Although the weather proved more accommodating than it did for Saturday's ghastly round in the wind, pin placements remained difficult and the pressure only intensified for the challengers.

Pak stayed atop the leaderboard despite shooting a 75 Saturday, when the field's' average was 77.89. She was at 1-over 214 after 54 holes. McKay and two others shot 73s. Not since the final round in 1976 had every golfer shot over par at a Women's Open.

The 6,412-yard layout is the second-longest in the 53 editions of the Women's Open. And swirling gusts off Lake Michigan blew drives off course, scattered approach shots and left everybody above par Saturday.

"This golf course is tough enough and unforgiving enough, and then when you add the wind, it's almost impossible," said Tammie Green, who began the day six shots back and finished with a 73 for a 293 total.

Annika Sorenstam, the 1995 and '97 Open winner who came to Wisconsin riding consecutive victories on the LPGA tour, shot a 77 Sunday to finish at 18-over 302.

"I'm glad this week is over," Sorenstam said. "I really think I played some good golf and I just didn't get rewarded this week. That's the way it goes with golf sometimes."