France’s Celine Boutier wins again on LPGA after nine-hole playoff battle in Malaysia

Celine Boutier survived a marathon nine-hole playoff at the Maybank Championship, ultimately defeating Atthaya Thitikul with 6-foot birdie putt. The winningest French player in LPGA history, Boutier now has four titles this season, including a major.

“I knew she wasn’t going to make a mistake,” said Boutier, “so I had to go for it and give myself the best chances for birdies.”

The playoff, which included a 90-minute storm delay, is the 12th on tour this season. Boutier also claimed her first victory of the season in overtime, defeating Solheim Cup partner Georgia Hall at the LPGA Drive On Championship at Superstition Mountain in Arizona.

The longest playoff in LPGA history came in 1972 at the Corpus Christi Civitan Open when Jo Ann Prentice defeated Sandra Palmer and Kathy Whitworth in 10 holes. At the 2012 Kingsmill Championship, Jiyai Shin took down Paula Creamer in nine extra holes, with the final hole coming Monday morning.

“It’s exhausting,” said Thitikul of the steamy overtime. “It’s pretty tiring, to be honest. But I think it’s the best playoff I ever had in my life.”

Celine Boutier of France and Atthaya Thitikul walk on the 18th fairway in a playoff eighth hole during the final round of the Maybank Championship at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club on October 29, 2023 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)

American Rose Zhang held the lead going into the final round, but her closing 71 put her in a share of third with early leader Jasmine Suwannapura.

“I think for me, it’s just important to understand what my routine is,” said Zhang of her takeaways on the week, “and I realized what’s been working for me, what I have to work on. Short game definitely much-needed practice. Almost felt like I was yipping it out there.

“But I really just am really happy that I have those kind of improving points to work on. Kind of makes me hopeful for whatever is to come.”

Boutier surged up the board with a bogey-free 64 on Sunday to finish at 21 under for the tournament. Thitikul shot 68 in the final round at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club to match her.

“Coming into the day, it was a long shot,” said Boutier. “I was quite a few shots back, and I also knew this course was pretty scorable, so I wasn’t sure what the leaders are going to be like, but I was just trying to focus on my own game and make as many birdies as I could and just see at the end.”

This marked the LPGA’s first tournament in Malaysia since 2017 and the purse of $3 million is one of the largest on tour among non-majors. Boutier earned $450,000 for her victory, bringing her season total to $2,730,340.

Thitikul climbed her way into position with a sensational 62 on Saturday that included a back-nine 30. Winless so far this season, the Thai sensation started trending in the right direction with a share of second earlier this month at the Ascendant LPGA in Texas. Last week she tied for fifth in South Korea.

Boutier now has more titles than anyone on tour this season, with World No. 1 Lilia Vu coming second with three. Over the summer, Boutier collected her first major on home soil at the Amundi Evian Championship. The victory in Malaysia moves her atop the LPGA Player of the Year standings, three points ahead of Vu. There are three events left on the LPGA schedule this season.