Under sunny Australian skies and with throngs of fans circling the green, France’s Celine Boutier knocked in a two-putt par at No. 18 and earned her first LPGA Tour victory at the 2019 ISPS Handa Vic Open.
The 25-year-old from Montrouge, France, returned an even-par 72 in Sunday’s final round to finish at -8 and become the season’s first Rolex First-Time Winner.
“It's been something I've been working toward since I turned pro and I just feel like it just happened,” said Boutier, who now makes her home in Dallas, Texas. “I'm super excited with the way I handled myself. It's not always easy to be able to get your first win.”
A trio of players finished two strokes behind Boutier at -6. Australia’s Sarah Kemp shot the day’s low round of 65, playing in the day’s second group after starting the round tied for 35th. She was joined in second by fellow Australian Su Oh and 2019 LPGA Tour rookie Charlotte Thomas of England.
In a format unique to world professional golf, the ISPS Handa Vic Open is a leader in sports equality. Staged at 13th Beach Golf Links on Australia’s Bellarine Peninsula, men and women play on the same courses, at the same time, for equal prize money. The ISPS Handa Vic Open is jointly sanctioned by the LPGA Tour, the ALPG, the European Tour and the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia.
BIG BIRDIE EARNS BIG WIN FOR BOUTIER
It was a 30-foot birdie at No. 15 that pulled Celine Boutier two strokes clear of the field and sealed her maiden victory. With a pump of her fist, she clearly knew that it was a major moment.
“I feel like I've struggled a bit all day with my long game and I just didn't have many birdie opportunities,” said Boutier, who ended up with third birdies on the day to go with three bogeys. “On 15 when I made that putt, kind of really made me like motivate myself and made me really more confident in my abilities to win the tournament.”
With her win, Boutier becomes the second Duke University alumna to win on the LPGA Tour, joining 2016 U.S. Women’s Open champion Brittany Lang. She is also the fourth French golfer to win an LPGA Tour event and first since 2003, joining Catherine Lacoste (one win), Patricia Meunier-Lebouc (two wins) and Anne-Marie Palli (two wins)
CAREER DAY FOR KEMP
To say that Aussie Sarah Kemp had a career day is a gross understatement. Playing in the day’s second group, the 33-year-old from New South Wales bounced back from an opening double-bogey to absolutely blitz her way around the Beach Course. Her nine birdies led to a 7-under 65, her best round since the fourth round of the 2010 Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic, and skyrocketed her up the leaderboard to a tie for second.
“It was one of those days you almost can't remember what happened,” said Kemp, who knocked in five consecutive birdies at Nos. 4-8. “It just all happened so fast and everything was going to plan. I tried to stay patient. I knew that I was kind of having a good score at the end and I got a little nervous coming down 18, but yeah, just lucked out.”
KAUFMAN TAKES THE POSITIVES FROM A TOUGH ROUND
After opening her final round with a birdie at No. 1, it looked like 54-hole leader Kim Kaufman might run away from the field. Unfortunately, just the opposite happened. The South Dakota native went bogey-bogey-double bogey on Nos. 3-5 and added three more bogeys in her inward nine to fall into a tie for eighth.
Nevertheless, Kaufman sees the positives from her round. Considering how much she struggled in 2018, missing 13 of 22 cuts and playing Q Series to better her position, she is happy with the current direction of her game.
“I think just the first two days being aggressive and just making a lot of birdies, and the game is there,” said Kaufman of what she learned about herself. “Also learning how do I learn to manage being in the final group the last two days. Just missed some putts, but I know the difference in my feel of it, it's a little tentative, and how to deal with that. The more we get in that position, hopefully the more you get to experiment and figure it out.”
Rolex Rankings No. 123 Celine Boutier (69C-71B-69B-72B, -8)
- She hit nine of 14 fairways and 10 of 18 greens, with 29 putts
- Boutier is in her third season on the LPGA tour; her best finish is third at the 2018 Blue Bay LPGA, her only career top-10 finish
- Boutier has two wins on the Ladies European Tour, the 2017 Sanya Ladies Open and the 2018 Australian Ladies Classic Bonville
- Boutier has two wins on the Symetra Tour, the 2017 Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic and the 2017 Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge
- Boutier is a 2016 graduate of Duke University; she joins Brittany Lang (2016 U.S. Women’s Open) as the only Duke alumnae to win on the LPGA Tour
- She was a two-time All-American at Duke and the 2013-14 National Player of the Year, and helped lead the Blue Devils to the 2014 NCAA Championship
Rolex Rankings No. 259 Sarah Kemp (70B-71C-77B-65B, -6)
- This is Kemp’s first top-20 finish since May 2015, when she finished T16 at the ShopRite LPGA Classic
- Her fourth-round 65 is tied for the second-lowest round of her LPGA Tour career; she shot a 63 at the 2009 Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic (third round) and a 65 at the 2010 Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic (fourth round)
- She hit 11 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens, with 26 putts
- Kemp is in her 12th LPGA Tour season; prior to today, her best career LPGA Tour finish was T10 (2010 CVS/pharmacy LPGA Challenge, 2011 Safeway Classic)
Rolex Rankings No. 78 Su Oh (67C-68B-74B-74B, -6)
- She hit five of 14 fairways and 12 of 18 greens, with 32 putts
- Oh is in her fourth LPGA Tour season; her best career finish is second at the 2016 Kingsmill Championship and she has eight top-10 finishes, including four in 2018
Rolex Rankings No. 450 Charlotte Thomas (68B-68C-78B-69B, -6)
- She hit nine of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens, with 32 putts
- Thomas is a 2019 LPGA Tour rookie; this was her third career LPGA Tour event, joining the 2017 and 2018 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Opens
Haru Nomura (T5) earned her best result since winning the 2017 Volunteers of America Texas Shootout
Alison Lee (T11) earned her best result since finishing second at the 2016 LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship
Three Australians finished in the top 10 – Sarah Kemp (T2), Su Oh (T2) and Katherine Kirk (T5)
Two LPGA Tour rookies finished in the top 10 – Charlotte Thomas (T2) and Lauren Stephenson (T8)
CME GROUP CARES CHALLENGE – SCORE 1 FOR ST. JUDE
The CME Group Cares Challenge is a season-long charitable giving program that turns aces into donations. CME Group will donate $20,000 for each hole-in-one made on the LPGA Tour in 2019, with a minimum guaranteed donation of $500,000 to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
Su Oh recorded the first ace of the 2019 LPGA Tour season on Thursday at the par-3 15th hole on the Creek Course at 13th Beach Golf Links. She rolled in a hole-in-one with a 6-iron from 160 yards for her seventh ace in competition and first since the third round of the 2016 LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship.
LEADERS TOP 10 COMPETITION
The LEADERS Top 10 competition awards a $100,000 bonus to the LPGA player with the most top-10 finishes through the completion of the event held immediately prior to the CME Group Tour Championship. In the event of a tie in total top-10 finishes, the award will go to the player with the most official wins, followed by most second-place finishes, third-place finishes, etc., until the tie is broken.
Through the first two events of the LPGA season, 21 players have top-10 finishes, led by Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions winner Eun-Hee Ji and ISPS Handa Vic Open winner Celine Boutier.