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France’s Céline Boutier rallies from a 5-stroke deficit to win the ShopRite LPGA Classic

Boutier, a Duke graduate and the 2014 national college player of the year, fired an 8-under-par 63 in the final round to win by one stroke over Inbee Park, Jin Young Ko and Brooke Henderson

Céline Boutier, of France, celebrates after winning the Shop Rite LPGA Classic tournament, Sunday, Oct 3, 2021, in Galloway, N.J. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)
Céline Boutier, of France, celebrates after winning the Shop Rite LPGA Classic tournament, Sunday, Oct 3, 2021, in Galloway, N.J. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)Read moreNoah K. Murray / AP

Céline Boutier completed her final round Sunday at the ShopRite LPGA Classic by holing out a 6-foot birdie putt at No. 18, and then had to wait about an hour before knowing whether her score was good enough to win or get her in a playoff, or whether she’d finish out of the running.

That’s why she was surprised when each of the 36-hole co-leaders, Inbee Park and Jin Young Ko, missed short birdie putts on the last hole that would have forced a playoff. Instead, Boutier won her first LPGA Tour event in the United States, the championship trophy, and a nice $262,500 winner’s check.

Boutier, 27, of France, shot an 8-under-par 63, the lowest round of the tournament and her best this year, over the tricky Bay Course at Seaview in Galloway, N.J., and finished at 14-under 199. That was one stroke better than Park and Ko, each of whom shot a 69, and Brooke Henderson, who fired a 64.

She admitted that the wait to see where she would finish was “pretty nerve-racking, to be honest” as she watched the last players finish on a television in the locker room.

“I was already in my mind going in the playoff and having to prepare for that,” Boutier said. “Just the fact that neither Jin Young nor Inbee birdied 18 kind of left me, I don’t know, kind of stunned, and I’m still a little bit surprised about it.”

Boutier faced a five-stroke deficit when she teed off Sunday four groups behind the leaders and jumped into contention on the front nine where she carded a 6-under 31. She stayed steady on the second nine, almost chipping in after missing the green at the par-3 15th and making par, and sinking a 10-foot birdie putt at No. 16 to get to 13-under.

She was just short of the par-5 18th in two, chipped up and made the birdie putt. After signing her scorecard, she checked her phone, read texts from her mother, and went to the practice putting green trying to stay in playoff mode. As it turned out, she didn’t have to.

Boutier is a graduate of Duke, where she was a two-time All-American, and won national player of the year honors in 2014. This was her second LPGA win, in her fourth season on the tour — the other coming in Australia in 2019 — and occurred in a year when she also competed in the Tokyo Olympics and helped lead Team Europe to victory in the Solheim Cup.

“Yeah, it’s been an insane year,” she said. “The Olympics was the most amazing experience. Then to back it up with winning the Solheim Cup on U.S. soil is definitely very special. Then to top it off to win my second win is just unbelievable. I can’t even rank which one is better.”