Celine Boutier wins the ShopRite LPGA with a closing 63 and some unlikely help from a pair of major winners
A playoff seemed inevitable at the ShopRite LPGA Classic. Celine Boutier was in the locker room at Seaview Resort at 14 under. Jin Young Ko and Inbee Park, both at 13 under, were coming down the 18th at the Bay Course, a short par 5 that holds the opportunity for eagles, let alone birdies. After hitting their approach shots, Park had an eight-footer to tie Boutier, Ko a seven-footer.
Park’s putting is so good, Boutier felt certain a birdie was as good as made: “I was like, I shouldn't even watch it, it's going to go in,” Boutier said. Remarkably, Park missed. Then Ko stepped up to her putt. Certainly, both the No. 3 and No. 2 players in the world wouldn’t miss, consecutively?
But they did, Ko’s putt moving left of the hole. And with that Boutier had won her second LPGA Tour event. No one was more in shocked than she.
“I was already in my mind going into the playoff and having to prepare for that,” Boutier said. “And then just the fact that neither Jin Young or Inbee birdied 18 really left me, I don't know, kind of stunned. I'm still a little bit surprised about it.”
Even so, Boutier deserves full the credit for her win, despite the unlikely misses of Ko and Park. The 27-year-old from France hit all but two fairways on Sunday and needed just 26 putts to shoot her final-round 63 in the 54-hole event.
Though it’s been more than two years since Boutier’s first LPGA win, the 2019 ISPS Handa Vic Open, if you look at Boutier’s past few weeks, this win isn’t a surprise at all.
Boutier played on Europe’s Solheim Cup team in their victory over Team USA at Inverness Club. Boutier went 1-1-1 in her matches. Though not as dominant as her 4-0-0 showing two years prior at Gleneagles, she played well and scoring points for the winning team built her confidence.
“I think it gave me a lot of energy. So, my next tournament after the Solheim was the French Open, which I won, too, so it kind of help me for the French Open,” Boutier said. “And then the French Open helped me get more confidence coming into these weeks on the LPGA. I just feel like I'm having some really good momentum, and I hope to keep going until the end of the season.”
Winning the Lacoste Ladies French Open was Boutier’s third Ladies European Tour victory. With her second LPGA title, she ties Patricia Meunier-Lebouc and Anne Marie Palli as the winningest Frenchwomen in LPGA history.
Boutier, who graduated Duke University in 2016, is humble about the accomplishment.
“Patricia has won a major, so I feel like I'm not even at that level yet,” Boutier said. “But it's just so great to be able to tie them. We're not that many French players out here on tour, so it's just always amazing and super proud to be representing my country every week, and hopefully a lot more players from France are coming.”
For now, she’s trying to come to terms with what happened on the 18th.
“Just unreal,” Boutier said. “I still can't believe that they both missed.”