Where are they now: Jenny Chuasiriporn
Unless you are a hardcore follower of women's golf, the name Jenny Chuasiriporn might not be familiar. Her competitive record, however, is memorable. Good enough, in fact, to merit induction into the Duke University Athletic Hall of Fame, where she was a four-time All American golfer for the Blue Devils from 1996 to 1999.
Left to right: Ben Bennett, Jenny Chuasiriporn, Bobby Hurley, Vanessa Webb, Mike Krzyzewski. (Photo by Jon Gardiner)
Honored along with Chuasiriporn at last week's ceremony were Mike Krzyzewski, Duke's legendary basketball coach; point guard Bobby Hurley, a key member of the 1991 and 1992 NCAA championship teams; Ben Bennett, a record-breaking quarterback in the 1980s; and Vanessa Webb, the 1998 NCAA tennis singles title holder (and, coincidentally, Chuasiriporn's roommate at Duke).
Chuasiriporn came to Durham from Timonium, Md., where she lived with her family above the restaurant run by her parents, who had immigrated to the U.S. from Thailand. She distinguished herself immediately, leading her team to the first of four ACC championships. She was named ACC player of the year three successive times and capped her senior season with the college's first women's NCAA championship.
A superior college player, Chuasiriporn's greatest moment
came in 1998 when she nearly beat the pros at the U.S. Women's Open at
Black Wolf Run in Kohler, Wis. No one was more surprised than she when
she holed a 45-foot putt across the 18th green to tie for the lead on
Sunday. Her brother, Joey, who was caddying for her, said he had the
hard job of lining up the putt. Hitting it was easy, he told his sister.
Joey traveled from Hong Kong for the HOF induction ceremony and enjoyed the
retelling of the famous putt and his role in it some 13 years later.
That putt tied her for first place with Se Ri Pak, then a rookie on the
LPGA Tour, and set up an 18-hole playoff the next day. Each player shot 73 in
regulation, extending the match even further. On the 20th hole, Pak
prevailed by sinking an 18-foot birdie putt. She became the youngest
U.S. Women's Open winner in history and Chuasiriporn went back to Duke
for her senior year.
After college, Chuasiriporn tried the pro tour for a while. Perhaps
nothing could measure up to those days at Black Wolf Run. She is now a
nurse in the cardiac ICU at MCV Hospital in Richmond, Va. She's so busy
with her career and studying for an advanced degree in nursing, she
hasn't played golf in three or four years. But when she has a moment to
reflect, as she did at the Hall of Fame celebration, one could sense how
meaningful golf has been to her.