Sunday, December 3, 2023

Golf: Celine Boutier wins LPGA Drive On Championship title

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Celine Boutier birdied the first playoff hole to edge Georgia Hall for the LPGA Drive On Championship title on Sunday at Superstition Mountain, Arizona.

Boutier’s third LPGA title is the most of any French golfer on the tour, surpassing Patricia Meunier-Lebouc and Anne-Marie Palli.

“It’s unbelievable,” Boutier said. “I mean, I don’t really know how to express it. Anne Marie is here today watching, and so I think it’s very special.

“I definitely feel like I was trying not to think about it just because it’s so crazy to think that I’m making history in any way.”

Boutier had taken a one-stroke lead into the final round and carded a four-under par 68 to join Hall on 20-under 268.

England’s Hall had climbed up the leaderboard with a seven-under par 65 that featured an eagle at the par-five 13th and seven birdies.

Hall had launched her day with back-to-back birdies at the first and second and birdied the par-five 18th for a one-shot clubhouse lead.

But Boutier got up and down for birdie at the 18th in regulation to force the playoff, and birdied it again for the win.

Boutier admitted the playoff against her European Solheim Cup teammate was “not enjoyable.”

“I just feel like I’m not really confrontational and I really like Georgia,” she said. “We were partners, like you said. So I feel like it was definitely a little bit sad that I had to go against her.

“She had a great round today and it was great that she had such a low round and (was) able to go in the playoff.”

In the playoff, Boutier was again right of the green with her second shot while Hall’s approach found the back bunker.

Boutier chipped to about four feet while Hall fired out of the bunker 20 feet past the hole. After Hall’s long birdie attempt missed, Boutier closed out her first playoff victory.

Japan’s Ayaka Furue finished alone in third after a 65 for 269.

American Gina Kim notched the LPGA’s first hole-in-one of 2023 when she aced the par-three eighth.

“At first I was scared because I was like, ‘Oh, crap. It probably hit the pin and went down the hill or something like that,'” said Kim, who finished tied for 66th. 

“Then I heard my mom screaming and everyone screaming and then that’s when I realized, holy cow.”

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