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Boutier edges Thitikul in near-record matching 9-hole playoff

MANILA, Philippines – Celine Boutier came out of the energy-sapping, near-record matching longest sudden death duel with a birdie on the par-3 No. 15 and deservedly claimed the hotly contested Maybank Championship over Thai Atthaya Thitikul on the ninth playoff hole in Malaysia Sunday.

It was one hole short of the long-standing 10-hole playoff clash, which Jo Ann Prentice won over Kathy Whitworth in the Corpus Christi Civitan Open at the now-defunct Pharaohs Country Club in Texas way back in 1972. The Frenchwoman finally wrapped up the mind-draining battle with a birdie in their fourth return on the 15th in post-regulation play.

It thus stood as the second longest playoff duel on the LPGA Tour, matching Jiyai Shin’s victory over Paula Creamer in the Kingsmill Championship at the Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Virginia in 2012.

Boutier earlier charged back from way behind to tie Thitikul at 21-under 267 after the 72-hole tournament with a solid eight-under 64. The Thai closed out with a 68.

It was Boutier’s fourth victory, worth $450,000, in the season about to end after ruling the LPGA Drive On Championship last March, the Evian Championship, a major, at home and the Scottish Open, both last July.

Currently at No. 5 in the world, Boutier is expected to further move up in the Rolex rankings.

The start of the playoff was actually delayed due to bad weather after both players matched par on the par-5 No. 18 and before Boutier could hit her approach shot on the next sudden death hole, also on No. 18, in a decision that did not sit well with the fans.

As the playoff resumed. Boutier and Thitikul matched par again and again (No. 15) and again back on No. 18, which they both birdied.

They headed back to the par-3 15th (fifth playoff hole) and matched par then both parred again the 18th and back to 15th and then to 18th again.

Both never wavered and birdied the eighth playoff hole (No. 18), hauling them back to No. 15.

Earlier, Yuka Saso matched her first round output of 67 as she salvaged a joint 20th finish in the $3 million championship.

Saso capped her blistering final round charge with three birdies at the front, the backside of her game yesterday, closing out