Céline Boutier dominates Evian Championship to become first Frenchwoman to win a major on home soil


      Céline Boutier dominates Evian Championship to become first Frenchwoman to win a major on home soil

France’s Celine Boutier celebrates winning the 2023 Evian Championship. Lewis Joly/AP Evian-les-Bains CNN  — 

Céline Boutier realized a long-held dream for herself and her country on Sunday, cruising to her first major title at the Evian Championship to become the first Frenchwoman to win the tournament.

The 29-year-old was impeccable from start to finish at Evian Resort Golf Club in Evian-les-Bains, carding 14-under par overall to finish six shots clear of last year’s champion Brooke Henderson.

It sees the Montrouge-native become just the third Frenchwoman to win a major championship, following Catherine Lacoste – who won the US Women’s Open as an amateur in 1967 – and 2003 Chevron Championship winner Patricia Meunier-Lebouc.

Tied-29th represented the best Boutier had ever previously performed in six appearances at the tournament and she missed the cut at last year’s event, but she was the only player to shoot four rounds in the 60’s in a stunning showing.

France had waited almost two decades to see a home winner at the tournament, which debuted in 1994 before becoming a major in 2013, and swathes of fans roared Boutier to a fairytale victory that secured her a $1 million cut of a $6.5 million prize purse.

“It honestly has been my biggest dream ever since I started watching golf,” Boutier said during her winner’s interview.

“This tournament has always been very special to me, just even watching as a teenager. To be able to hold this trophy is pretty unbelievable.”

      Céline Boutier dominates Evian Championship to become first Frenchwoman to win a major on home soil

Fans flocked to follow Boutier’s charge to a first major. Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Canada’s Henderson made a valiant effort to become the first to ever successfully defend the trophy, but could not build the final day momentum she needed to reel in Boutier and win a third major title, closing with a 70.

Mexico’s Gaby Lopez and Norway’s Celine Borge carded final round 68’s to register their best major finishes in tied-third. The duo were joined at seven-under overall by South Korea’s A-Lim Kim, as well as Japanese duo Yuka Saso and Nasa Hataoka.

Similarly chasing a first major, 24-year-old Hataoka had been three shots behind Boutier heading into the final round, but shot one-over 72 to fall further behind.

American golf prodigy Rose Zhang delivered yet another hugely impressive major performance, closing with two birdies to finish tied-ninth at five-under overall and complete an opening hat-trick of top-10 major finishes since turning pro in May.

The final women’s major of the year, the Women’s Open, tees off at Walton Heath in Surrey, England on August 9. Attention then turns to the Solheim Cup at Finca Cortesin in Andalucia, Spain on September 22, where Team Europe will hold home advantage in their chase for a three-peat.

      Céline Boutier dominates Evian Championship to become first Frenchwoman to win a major on home soil

EVIAN-LES-BAINS, FRANCE – JULY 30: Brooke M. Henderson of Canada looks on after teeing off on the 13th hole during the Final Round of the Amundi Evian Championship at Evian Resort Golf Club on July 30, 2023 in Evian-les-Bains, France. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images) Stuart Franklin/Getty Images Fanfare

Fans had followed Boutier in their droves from the opening round, their numbers rising higher and higher as her score fell lower and lower.

Under glorious sunshine on Sunday, it felt as though the entire spa town – and much of France – had trekked up the hill to push their compatriot towards history.

Applause and shouts of encouragement soundtracked her short walk from the practice putting green to the first tee, with fans crammed four or five deep behind the ropes for most of the 399 yards to the hole, angling to get a view of her opening shots.

Ahead of the tournament, Boutier told CNN that her home major brought a level of attention that exerted unwanted pressure, and Sunday surely represented the most pressure she has faced in her career to date.

Adding to the weight of history and expectation, Boutier had only ever held the 54-hole lead at a major once before, having co-led the 2019 US Women’s Open before finishing tied-fifth.

Yet if any nervous energy was felt, a steely-eyed Boutier harnessed it and channeled it into her swing to make a start she could only have dreamed of Saturday night. Three birdies across the first five holes – each one met with a roar of increasing volume – saw the leader pull further away from the chasing pack.

When playing partner Hataoka bogeyed the sixth, Boutier’s advantage grew to six. After parring the next four straight, she made the turn bogey-free.

      Céline Boutier dominates Evian Championship to become first Frenchwoman to win a major on home soil

Hataoka tees off on the 8th hole. Stuart Franklin/Getty Images Homecoming

Even as her driver kept landing her in trouble, Boutier continuously rebounded to keep the door firmly closed.

The 29-year-old was driving long only to hit less than 43% of fairways as she arrived at the 11th tee – the fourth worst in the field – yet was unmatched in the short game, averaging just 1.4 putts per hole.

That trend finally stung Boutier at the par-four 13th when – having sent her tee shot into a fairway bunker – she shot her first bogey of the day to cut the gap from Hataoka to four.

But just as quickly as that glimmer of hope looked to be flickering for the chasers, the leader snuffed it out. A fourth birdie of the day at the 15th restored the five-shot cushion, with Hataoka carding back-to-back bogeys to tumble out of contention.

Boutier’s stern expression never wavered, but a crowd dialing into party-mode were already treating it like a procession. A small smile finally appeared as she laid up onto the final green, before rolling in for a final par.

As the crowds packed around the green erupted, Boutier had a brief moment to soak in the occassion before she was soaked in champagne by a group of her fellow LPGA Tour players.


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