GALLOWAY, N.J.—Celine Boutier was an afterthought entering the final round of the ShopRite LPGA Classic. At the start of the day all eyes were on the duo tied at the top—Jin Young Ko and Inbee Park.
While Ko and Park battled it out behind her, Boutier quickly entered the conversation with six birdies on Seaview Resort's Bay Course opening nine to go out in 31. The birdie barrage slowed to begin the back nine as she made six straight pars, and Ko remained in front.
Knowing she needed to finish with a flurry, Boutier added two more birdies at Nos. 16 and 18 to tie her career-low round with a 63.
Both Park and Ko came to the short par-5 18th with an opportunity to force a playoff with a birdie or win outright, but neither could make 4 or better. Boutier won in the locker room, preparing for a playoff.
The win is her second on the LPGA Tour, following her win at the 2019 ISPS Handa Vic Open, and adds to what has already been a banner year.
“It's been an insane year. I have to add also the Olympics to that, which was the most amazing experience, and to back it up with winning the Solheim Cup on U.S. soil is definitely very special,” Boutier said. “To top it off, winning my second win is just unbelievable. I can't even rank which one is better. It's just so different. But it's definitely going to be a very special year for me.”
Boutier was shocked she wasn't playing extra golf.
“I was already in my mind going into the playoff and having to prepare for that. And then just the fact that neither Jin Young or Inbee birdied 18 really left me stunned. I'm still a little bit surprised about it,” Boutier said.
It was particularly surprising for Park, a 21-time LPGA Tour winner and seven-time major champion who is already in the LPGA Hall of Fame, to miss such a crucial putt late in the tournament.
Park is arguably the best putter in all of golf; she makes a whopping 63 percent of her putts from 10-15 feet, well above the LPGA Tour average of 28 percent. Her percentage of putts made from that length is even better than the PGA Tour average from 5-10 feet.
“It's tough because 18 is just out of my reach, and for most players it's a birdie hole. I knew that I had to make a birdie and gave it all I got. Just came up a little bit short. Probably just a little misread on the putts,” Park said.
Boutier has done plenty of winning lately: She was a member of the victorious European Solheim Cup team and won her first start following the event at Inverness at the Lacoste French Open on the Ladies European Tour.
Boutier got creative to keep her game sharp after the LPGA Tour shut down due to the pandemic—she won the Texas Women’s State Open and the Kathy Whitworth Paris Championship on the Women’s All Pro Tour.
She said she hasn’t always been competitive, but that her drive has increased as her career progresses.
“I'm getting more and more competitive as I grow up. I feel like when I was younger I definitely did not describe myself as being competitive. I tried to look for tournaments to play because I knew I was ready, and I just wanted to have something going on,” Boutier said. “So I played in the Texas Open and two other events on the APT, which definitely help to get the competitiveness going and help me get my game ready for when the season on the LPGA started again.”