10 February 2019: LPGA Release
Celine Boutier was the No.1 amateur in the world whose denouement was waiting to unfold. At 13th Beach, the Frenchwoman finally delivered on the promise with the first LPGA Tour win of her career.
She did it in style on a friendlier final day on the links, the opportunity presented when overnight leader Kim Kaufman of the United States, fell away badly.
Boutier started out two shots from the lead but quickly had the reigns, after Kaufman’s three wood second to the par-five fifth skated off the back of the green and under a small tree. The American took double bogey and was on her way to a 78 that left her tied-eighth and regretting the way she finished.
As for the 24-year-old Boutier, she put together a steady, even-par 72 that was enough for a two-shot win.
The women struggled with the course set-up on the final day, crafted as it was so that it was difficult enough for the men. In the final group none of Boutier, Kaufman nor Su Oh of Australia could break par.
But Sarah Kemp broke the mould, the Australian starting out early and despite a double bogey at the first carding a 65 that put her in the clubhouse at six-under par. Kemp went back to her local digs and waited; it was the knockabout Australian whom Boutier had to reel in. There was only a shot in it as Boutier passed the clubhouse at the 15th.
The Frenchwoman is renowned for front running. At the short, par-four 15th she hit a problematic chip from in front of the green that left her with a 10-metre birdie putt and her lead was just a shot. But the putt hammered into the back of the cup. Although she had three holes to play, it was the close-out moment.
“I feel like I’ve struggled a bit all day with my long game and I just didn’t have the many birdie opportunities,” she said later. “Then on 15 when I made that putt, kind of really made me like motivate myself and made me really more confident in my abilities to win the tournament.”
Boutier, a Parisien whose parents are Thai, put the parachute up. Two shots ahead, she parred in including a tester at the par-three 17th.
“I have heard so much about this event before from the girls playing in it and I was super-excited to come this year,” she said. “It exceeded all my expectations. The courses were great, the people were amazing, the volunteers, the organization. Honestly just a really really good tournament.”
Kemp, Su Oh (74 today) and Englishwoman Charlotte Thomas tied for second at six-under par.
Of those, it was Oh who might have had the best chance of all. The Melburnian has had a string of top-10 finishes in the Vic Open without winning, and this was another. Her poor start — four dropped shots in the first four holes — made it tough for her.
As for Boutier, it was all new but somehow, familiar. “Champagne, I guess,” she said.