Originally created 08/15/98

Booth is player to beat in U.S. Women's Amateur



ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Kellee Booth has firmly established herself as the player to beat in the 98th U.S. Women's Amateur championship.

Booth, who shattered tournament records for medal-play qualifying earlier in the week, rolled past two opponents on the first day of match play Thursday at Barton Hills Country Club.

Booth, of Coto de Caza, Calif., whipped Eve Lux of Highland, N.Y., 6-5 in the morning and came back with a 5-4 victory over Leilani Bagby of Santa Monica, Calif., in the afternoon.

If she wins her morning match Friday, she could play U.S. Women's Open runner-up Jenny Chuasiriporn in the afternoon quarterfinals. Chuasiriporn also advanced with two wins Thursday.

Booth's easy victories came a day after the 22-year-old broke qualifying records for 18 holes (6-under-par 66) and two rounds (138) to earn medalist honors. She's been on a roll since she went undefeated to help the U.S. reclaim the Curtis Cup from Britain-Ireland last month.

Chuasiriporn, another U.S. Curtis Cup player, can't look ahead to playing Booth. That's because her morning opponent, Shauna Estes of Orangeburg, S.C., eliminated her from last year's Women's Amateur.

Chuasiriporn cruised to a 5-4 victory Thursday morning over Marilyn Hardy of Houston. The 21-year-old Duke senior from Timonium, Md., got a little scare in the afternoon, almost blowing a four-hole lead before settling for a 1-up victory over Alison Rose of Scotland, a member of that Britain-Ireland Curtis Cup team.

Bogeys at Nos. 12, 13 and 16 cut her lead to one hole with two to play, but both players parred in.

Only six of the 14 Curtis Cup players who advanced to match play made it to the round of 16.

Other Americans include 1997 Women's Amateur runner-up Robin Burke of Houston and Brenda Corrie Kuehn of Fletcher, N.C.

Britain-Ireland players advancing were Elaine Ratcliffe and Karen Stupples.

Also making the third round were Angela Stanford of Saginaw, Texas, Nicole Dalkas of Palm Desert, Calif., Leland Beckel of Bethesda, Md., Brandi Miller of Palm Beach Gardens , Fla., Marisa Baena of Tucson, Ariz., Grace Park of Phoenix, Stephanie Keever of Las Vegas, Dorothy Joy Delasin of Daly City, Calif., and Marcy Newton of High Point, N.C.

Delasin had a hole-in-one in her morning match. She used a 5-iron to ace the 169-yard eighth hole.