Tanaporn survives 9-hole playoff at Thailand Ladies Open

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Tanaporn Kongkiatkrai celebrates her dramatic victory in the 2011 Thailand Ladies Open.

BANGKOK, Thailand – If playing for her first Ladies Asian Golf Tour title weren’t grueling enough for Tanaporn Kongkiatkrai, then nine playoff holes compounded the stress.

The 19-year-old Thai prevailed after an exhausting playoff against Korean Cho A-ram in the Thailand Ladies Open at Lakewood Country Club.

Deadlocked for eight extra holes, Tanaporn fired her approach shot within 3 feet of the flag and made birdie on the ninth playoff hole to claim victory.

Having completed the regulation 54 holes tied at 8-under 208, Tanaporn and Cho headed to the 392-yard, par-4 18th to decide the contest.

The players carded pars in seven attempts. On the eighth occasion, the advantage appeared to be with the Thai after Cho drove into water. But while the Korean recovered to make bogey, Tanaporn failed to get up-and-down from short of the green and also settled for a 5.

However, Tanaporn’s disappointment was short-lived. Less than 20 minutes later, she was celebrating after making a decisive birdie after Cho failed to convert a 4-footer.

“Today, I played well and was able to play many holes in regulation. After the 18th hole, I didn’t know that I was in the lead until I sent in my scorecard,” said Tanaporn, who closed with a 68 to set the clubhouse lead, while Cho limped home with a 72.

“On the eighth hole of the playoff, I had a chance after Cho’s drive found the water but was unable to make my putt because I was so nervous.”

Tanaporn became only the third Thai player to win the Thailand Ladies Open, following Pornanong Phatlum (2008) and Onnarin Sattayabanphot (2009). It was the third professional victory for Tanaporn, who turned pro last year. Her previous victories came at the 2010 Thai LPGA Championship and the Singha Classic last month on the Thai domestic tour.

Koreans Park Haen-nim and Byun Hyun-min shared third place at 209. American Tiffany Tavee and Korean Jung Yeon-ju tied for fifth at 210.

Pornanong, the joint second-round leader with Cho, posted a 75 that included a four-putt double bogey on the 11th. She dropped to T-7 at 211.

Thai Thanya Pattamakijsakul was the leading amateur, finishing 25th at 219.

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