KUALA LUMPUR – In fading light and with another thunderstorm approaching, Celine Boutier made a birdie on the ninth playoff hole to defeat Atthaya Thitikul and win the Maybank Championship on the LPGA Tour on Sunday.
In a marathon playoff, both players made near identical shots on several holes and saw potential winning putts lip out as they stayed tied through eight tense holes, which included sitting out a 90-minute storm delay at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club course.
At the ninth playoff hole on the par-3 15th, the Thai player narrowly missed her birdie putt, opening the door for Boutier, who showed no nerves in landing her 6-foot putt to clinch her fourth title of the season, including wins at the Women’s Scottish Open and the Evian Championship for her first major title.
Both Boutier and Thitikul finished on 21-under 267 after 72 regulation holes. The nine-hole playoff tied the record for the second-longest playoff in LPGA Tour history.
Boutier shot an 8-under 64 with eight birdies, which would have been nine had her birdie putt on the 18th not lipped out. Had that gone in the Frenchwoman would have held a two-shot clubhouse lead over Thitikul, but the Thai player made birdie on the final hole for a 68 to force what became a lengthy playoff in hot, humid conditions in Malaysia.
“I didn’t expect it to be that long, to be honest,” Boutier said of the playoff. “I felt like we were both very close to winning a few times, and I just felt like we just had to make a birdie essentially. I knew she wasn’t going to make a mistake, so I had to go for it and give myself the best chances for birdies.”
American Rose Zhang, who had a one-stroke lead going into the final round, shot a 71 to finish at 19 under, two shots behind the leaders in a tie for third with Thai player Jasmine Suwannapura (70).
Chien Peiyun (68) of Taiwan was fifth at 18-under 270. American Nelly Korda and Canadian Brooke Henderson both shot 66 to finish 17 under in a tie for sixth.
It was Zhang’s fifth top-10 finish on the LPGA Tour in just her 12th event as a professional in her rookie season.
Boutier is the first player to win at least four times in a single season since Korda (4 wins) and Jin Young Ko (5) in 2021.
Thitikul and Boutier were on the second playoff hole when the horn blew at 2:48 p.m. because of lightning in the area. Play resumed at 4:20 p.m.
The longest playoff in LPGA Tour history was 10 holes at the 1972 Corpus Christi Civitan Open. The last nine-hole playoff occurred at the 2012 Kingsmill Championship, where Jiyai Shin of South Korea defeated American Paula Creamer.
The Maybank Championship was the third of four LPGA events on the tour’s Asian swing. Minjee Lee of Australia won last week’s stop in South Korea in a playoff. The final tournament is next week’s Toto Classic in Japan.
AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf