Celine Boutier wins LPGA Malaysia after epic nine-hole playoff

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — In a thrilling playoff at the Maybank Championship on the LPGA Tour, Celine Boutier emerged as the winner by sinking a birdie on the ninth playoff hole, defeating Atthaya Thitikul.

The playoff between Boutier and Thitikul was a nail-biting affair, with both players making almost identical shots on several holes. The tension was heightened as potential winning putts grazed the lip of the hole but failed to drop. The playoff was even interrupted by a 90-minute storm delay at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club course.

Then, at the par-3 15th hole, Boutier capitalized on a missed birdie putt by Thitikul and calmly sank her 6-foot putt to secure her fourth title of the season. Her previous wins included the Women’s Scottish Open and the Evian Championship, her first major title.

Both Boutier and Thitikul finished the tournament tied at 21-under 267 after 72 regulation holes.

Boutier had an exceptional round, shooting an 8-under 64 with eight birdies. She would have had a ninth birdie on the 18th hole had her putt not just missed. This could have given the Frenchwoman a two-shot lead over Thitikul, but the Thai player also made a birdie on the final hole to force the playoff under hot and humid conditions in Malaysia.

“I didn’t expect the playoff to be that long, to be honest,” said Boutier. “I felt like we were both very close to winning multiple times, and I just knew we had to make a birdie. I knew she wouldn’t make a mistake, so I had to take the chance and give myself the best opportunity for a birdie.”

American Rose Zhang, who held a one-stroke lead going into the final round, finished at 19-under, two shots behind the leaders, tying for third place with Thai player Jasmine Suwannapura. Chien Peiyun of Taiwan finished fifth at 18-under 270. American Nelly Korda and Canadian Brooke Henderson tied for sixth place with a score of 17 under after shooting 66.

The Maybank Championship was the third of four LPGA events on the tour’s Asian swing. The previous week’s tournament in South Korea was won by Minjee Lee of Australia in a playoff. The final tournament of the swing is the upcoming Toto Classic in Japan.


AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf


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