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Original Issue

Back To School

It hurt to lose the U.S. Open in a playoff to Se Ri Pak, but
maybe not as much as you'd think. As I told my family after the
playoff, it might be for the best that I lost. I wasn't ready to
be the U.S. Open champion. One day I will be, but right now it's
scary to think about being the Open champ, carrying that
responsibility around all the time. For one thing, the pressure
to turn pro would have been huge if I'd won, and I had already
made up my mind to go back to Duke. You think I would miss my
senior year?

Life has been wild since the Open. I've gotten hundreds of
letters congratulating me, including one from President Clinton.
More than 100 people at my home club in Hunt Valley, Md., threw
a 21st-birthday party for me last month. August 4 was Jenny
Chuasiriporn Day in Baltimore County. I even got to throw out
the first ball at an Orioles game at Camden Yards--and it was a
wild pitch! Talk about embarrassing. Still, it's hard to feel
bad when so many good things came out of my summer vacation. Do
you know what was the best? Hearing about little girls who
started playing golf after watching Se Ri and me at the Open.

The worst is the what-ifs. What if I had made one more putt in
the playoff? Of course, I wouldn't have been in it if I hadn't
made a 45-footer on the 72nd hole on Sunday. I love watching
that putt on tape. I still haven't watched tape of the playoff,
though. That's something else I'll need to work my way up to.

What happened at the Open puts extra pressure on me, but it also
gives me confidence going into this week's U.S. Amateur in Ann
Arbor, Mich. Win or lose, I'll be turning pro next year.

For now, I want to enjoy being a college player. Even that's
going to be different because of the Open. Now that so many
people on campus know who I am, I guess I'll have to stop
sneaking into line for basketball games.

Jenny Chuasiriporn will earn her degree in psychology next spring.

COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BIEVER SECOND THOUGHTS Chuasiriporn doesn't rue being Pak's runner-up. [Jenny Chuasiriporn]