France’s Celine Boutier matched the low round of her career with a bogey-free eight-under-par 63 this past Sunday to capture the LPGA ShopRite Classic and her first US title.
The 27-year-old closed with two birdies on her last three holes to finish the 54-hole event on 14 under 199 at Seaview Bay in Galloway, New Jersey.
That was enough for a one-stroke victory over world No 2 Ko Jin-young and third-ranked Park In-bee, both of South Korea, and Canada’s Brooke Henderson.
“I just made a lot of putts today,” Boutier said. “I played really solid, gave myself a lot of opportunities and dropped a lot of putts.”
Boutier’s only other LPGA title came at the 2019 Women’s Victoria Open in Australia.
“It’s unbelievable,” Boutier said. “My first win in Australia was so long ago. It was time for another one. I’m just over the moon.”
Watch her Sunday highlights! 👇 pic.twitter.com/1trx8Eniw6
— LPGA (@LPGA) October 4, 2021
Born in France to Thai parents, Boutier has won three ladies European Tour titles, the most recent two weeks ago at the Women’s French Open.
Boutier birdied six of the first nine holes to leap into contention, then birdied the par-four 16th and closed with a six-foot birdie putt at the par-five 18th to seize a one-stroke clubhouse lead, with Ko and Park one stroke back.
The South Korean stars each parred the par-three 17th and needed birdies at 18 to force a playoff.
Park was short of the green but pitched from short rough to eight feet past the hole.
Ko reached the green in two but was on the opposite side from the hole and left her long-range eagle bid almost 10 feet short.
Park slid her birdie putt a foot past the cup and Ko’s putt went left of the hole, giving Boutier the title.
Boutier watched it happen on a television set in the locker room.
“It was the perfect place to chill and watch the end,” Boutier said. “I couldn’t find a TV anywhere else.”
Mexico’s Maria Fassi fired a career-low 64 to grab a career-best LPGA finish of fifth on 201, one stroke ahead of Thailand’s Patty Tavatanakit.
“It was awesome,” Fassi said. “We did such good work today, all week really. We just stayed true to our gameplan. I was happy to see it pay off. I’ve been waiting for this.”
Ko missed a chance for her third win of the season after triumphs at Dallas in July and Portland two weeks ago.
Park, ending a six-week layoff this week, sought her 22nd career LPGA title and first since March’s Kia Classic.
The season continues next week with Ko defending her title at the Founders Cup in West Caldwell, New Jersey, before the LPGA makes a reduced Asia swing to South Korea and Japan ahead of next month’s season-ending Tour Championship.
Events in China and Taiwan were cancelled due to Covid-19 issues.
© Agence France-Presse