French glory: LPGA Tour’s Céline Boutier keeps focus, wins Drive On Championship

Céline Boutier of France earned a narrow victory Sunday at the Drive On Championships in Gold Canyon. The win marked her first on the LPGA Tour since October 2021 and her third overall. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

GOLD CANYON – Going into her final round on Sunday, LPGA player Céline Boutier was sitting at 16 under par and leading the LPGA Drive On Championship over Hae Ran Ryu, Alison Lee and Moriya Jutanugarn, who were all tied at 15 under par. Boutier fell behind the leaders and as she was heading into hole 18, she needed a birdie putt to tie and force a playoff against Georgia Hall.

Boutier made the birdie putt without losing focus and forced a playoff.

“I think I was a little bit nervous, but not as much as I expected or thought I was going to be,” Boutier said. “I feel like I was just really focused, I was just trying to make a solid stroke, and then if it goes in, it goes in.”

The playoff ended after one hole as Boutier birdied 18, defeating Hall, who is both her friend and Solheim Cup teammate.

“It’s a bittersweet feeling because you obviously want to win,” Boutier said. “At the same time, I really think that she’s an amazing player. She is a really good friend of mine.

“I feel like it’s not always easy, but I am also a little bit competitive, so I feel like I definitely want to win. But it’s not the greatest feeling,” she said of beating Hall.

Though Boutier’s last win came on the tour in October 2021 at the ShopRite LPGA Classic, the road she has traveled has been long and successful. Born in France, the 29-year-old Boutier came to the United States and attended Duke University from 2012-2016. She won four collegiate events, and in 2014 she received the Women’s Golf Coaches Association Player of the Year and won the Honda Sports Award for golf.

Boutier saw success early in 2015, when she was ranked No.1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. In 2017, she dominated her opposition en route to two wins on the Symetra Tour. While on the Symetra tour, Boutier was the first player from France to earn her LPGA tour card since 2013. After earning her LPGA tour card, Boutier went on to win three tour events.

Her first win came in February 2019 at the ISPS Handa Vic Open in Australia, where she shot 8 under par. She then went on to win two years later at the ShopRite LPGA Classic, shooting 14 under par. Boutier’s most recent win at the Drive On Championship solidifies her as one of the top French golfers on the tour. On Sunday, she passed French golfers Patricia Meunier-Lebouc and Anne-Marri Palli for all-time wins in the LPGA. Palli was at the Superstition Mountain Golf & Country Club following Boutier in her final round.

“It was kind of unbelievable,” Boutier said. “I knew she was coming because she came yesterday and she lives in Phoenix. She’s always cheering on the Frenchies.”

The experience of having Palli on hand for support meant a lot to Boutier.

“I really appreciate her support,” Boutier said. “She told me she had won this tournament too, so it’s definitely a little bit more special to be able to win after her.”

With her third LPGA tour win, Boutier earned $262,500 and surpassed $4 million career earnings, a milestone that has been a long time coming for the French golfer.

“I definitely had a bunch of opportunities last year and wasn’t able to do it,” Boutier said. “To be able to do it this early in the season this year is definitely very satisfying.”

She now has the most wins on tour from any French woman and has potentially validated her place on the LPGA tour.

“It’s definitely very gratifying,” Boutier said “I’ve been trying to win for a few years now. I was definitely feeling a little bit down at times and a little bit frustrated thinking, can I actually do it?

“To be able to do it this week, with this strong of a field, is definitely very good for confidence.”

Aaron Healy AIR-in HEE-lee (he/him)
Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Aaron Healy expects to graduate in May 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism. Healy, who is assigned to Cronkite News this semester, has covered sports events for Varsity Xtra in Phoenix.