Celine Boutier matched a career-low score on Sunday with a final-round 63 in the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer to reach 14-under par overall and hold off Rolex Rankings No. 2 Jin Young Ko, No. 3 Inbee Park and a charging Brooke Henderson for the second LPGA Tour title of her career.
“It was such a surreal day. This morning, I knew the course was scorable and that I had to shoot a low score to even have a chance,” said Boutier, who hit 14 greens in the bogey-free effort. “Then after No. 18, I had left everything on the course. But a couple of groups were left out there.
“I was expecting to go into a playoff. It was already in my mind having to prepare for that. The fact that neither Jin Young nor Inbee birdied 18 really left me kind of stunned. I’m still a bit surprised about it.”
With the win, Boutier matches Patricia Meunier-Lebouc and Anne-Marie Palli for most wins by a French golfer in LPGA Tour history. One of the wins for Palli also happened to be the ShopRite LPGA Classic, as she won the 1992 tournament in a playoff over Laura Davies. Palli cashed a winner’s check of $60,000, while Boutier collected $262,500.
“It’s really hard to describe and even realize what it means, but I fortunately know both Patricia and Anne-Marie, and they’re the nicest people,” Boutier said. “Patricia has won a major, so I feel like I’m not even at that level yet. There’s not that many French players out here on Tour, so it’s just always amazing and I’m super proud to represent my country every week.
“I know Anne-Marie quite well, actually. I got to know her my first year on Tour because she lives in Phoenix and we used to have the Founders [Cup] tournament there, so she would come out and watch. She was actually here this week playing in the Pro-Am, so I saw her Wednesday and Thursday. I really do love her energy and I’m sure she was watching, too. I hope she’s happy.”
The victory comes just two starts after a win in her native country at the Lacoste Ladies Open de France on the Ladies European Tour. Boutier discussed how being part of the victorious European Solheim Cup team in September spurred these results.
“I think it give me a lot of energy. My next tournament after the Solheim [Cup] was the French Open, which I won, too, so it kind of helped me for the French Open,” said Boutier, a three-time LET champion. “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 hope to keep going until the end of the season.”
Henderson finished in a tie for second with 36-hole co-leaders Ko (69) and Park (69). The Canadian shot a 7-under 64 for her career-low round on the Bay Course at Seaview, a Dolce Hotel. That also tied the second-lowest score of the tournament with Maria Fassi, who went 7-under on Sunday to reach -12 overall and secured a career-best result on the LPGA Tour of solo fifth.
“I said to [caddie and sister] Brit, ‘We finally played like us, and that feels really good.’ It was so fun to be back in contention,” said Henderson, who played in the same group as Boutier on Sunday. “It was fun to be near the top and have a chance to make a couple birdies coming in.”
Ko and Park had birdie looks on No. 18 to force a playoff with Boutier. Neither could capitalize; Ko from seven feet and Park from eight.
“Celine played a great round. I really didn’t see them coming from that much behind, but I obviously did not have a great round. I mean, it was okay, but not good enough to win,” Park said. “Got off to a good start. Just couldn’t finish well. A little bit disappointing.
“I knew that I had to make a birdie [on No. 18] and gave it all I got. Just came up a little bit short.”