Evian leader Boutier loving home turf, Talley holes out again, and the big names who missed the cut in France

July 28, 2023

France's Celine Boutier plays the second round of the Evian Championship.


For the first time in Celine Boutier's career, the Frenchwoman sits atop the leaderboard in her homeland's major championship. A birdie on the 18th Friday gave Boutier a 66-69 opening through the first two days at the Amundi Evian Championship in Evian-les-Bains, France. She leads at seven under par after a day of difficult scoring in windy conditions.

"It's definitely not easy," Boutier said of leading. "I feel like in the past I've definitely not handled it very well. I just feel like I put a lot of pressure on myself because I don't want to disappoint anybody."

Boutier, 29, navigated a challenging second round where the Evian Resort Course played nearly four strokes worse than Thursday. First-round leader Paula Reto shot 75, including trips into the trees on Nos. 12 and 15, to fall back to T-8 at four under.

Boutier has no room for comfort as major champions Yuka Saso and Patty Tavatanakit trail at six under. Past tour winners Gaby Lopez and Nasa Hataoka are five under.

Here are five takeaways from the second round at the Evian Championship.

The par-3 14th proves a challenging test

The field averaged 3.61 on the 199-yard 14th, and as Golf Channel commentator Morgan Pressel noted, played closer to a par 3 than a par 4. The back right pin location confounded the field, dropping players reach the green from 76.3 percent on Thursday to 47.3 percent Friday. There were the same number of double bogeys (10) as birdies (10). It was the hardest of the five par 3s Friday, as they all played over par.

The 14th’s slope off the back of the green, which loomed just past the cup on Friday, led to unique strategies to stay close to the hole. Ayaka Furue hit her 40-foot putt from the middle of the green almost 90 degrees left of the pin, playing it off the ridge to nestle six feet away for a par. Reto and Danielle Kang chipped on the putting surface, hoping to get some check.

The 14th derailed multiple scorecards with high numbers. Stephanie Meadow's triple bogey and 76 dropped her from three under to even for the championship. Mel Reid lost her chance to make the cut with a 6 that led to a 79.

Emma Talley aces way into weekend

Talley has a hole-out in back-to-back tournaments now after making an ace with a “perfect” pitching wedge at Evian’s 153-yard second hole.

Talley parred the rest of the way to sneak into the weekend at four over.

The ace follows a key eagle on the 16th in the final round of the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational in a T-3 finish.

"Might as well have bought a lottery ticket," Talley joked. "I've been holing out a lot this year."

New clubs give Saso's season new life

Saso's two-under 69 Friday put her tied for second, a consistent position of late for the 2021 U.S. Women's Open champion. Over her last four starts, Saso has posted three top-10s, including a runner-up at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship. The help lies in the Callaway Apex MB and CB irons, along with a new putter Saso slotted into her bag after the Founders Cup in June.

"I changed my clubs here and there, and I think that's working out really good," Saso said.

Before the recent run of solid play, Saso missed four consecutive cuts from the end of March through mid-May, including the Chevron Championship. She hit 61.1 percent of greens in regulation over that struggling stretch and has since improved to 72.6 percent. She’s hit 72.2 percent of greens this week.

Notables to miss the cut

The cutline of top 65 and ties came down to the last group of the day. Mi Hyang Lee's 5 on the par-5 ninth resulted in her ending the day at four over and kept the five others at four over at T-65 to just get into the weekend. Still, multiple top players left early.

Ruoning Yin (73-74, five over)

Making her debut in the Evian, the 2023 KPMG Women's PGA Championship winner now has missed back-to-back cuts, the only two of her breakout season.

Ally Ewing (67-80, five over)

A staggering 13-stroke difference led the American Solheim hopeful to miss the weekend by a shot. Ewing played her final side, the front nine, in seven over, including a triple bogey on the fourth.

Charley Hull (77-70, five over)

Hull had a repeat moment of "shy kids don't get sweets" from the last hole at Pebble Beach to finish her round Friday. However, instead of a chance to win a major, it was for Hull to make the cut. Needing birdie to make the weekend, she reached the par-5 18th with a vicious fairway wood to get to the front of the green. A three-putt, however, had Hull settling for par and she missed her first Evian cut since the tournament became a major in 2014.

Danielle Kang (73-79, 10 over)

Kang has missed back-to-back cuts. She took to Instagram to highlight her recent play, captioning it with "Scoring sooo sh— as of late but at least my chipping has been on point in helping me stay in the 70s."