By Ryan Herrington
Photo by Cooper Neill
When the LPGA went dark in February, shutting down play due to the spread of the coronavirus, Celine Boutier presumable felt a variety of emotions. Of course, what was happening around the world was heartbreaking to the 26-year-old from France. On a more personal level, the former All-American at Duke and member of the victorious 2019 European Solheim Cup team was off to a good start with her golf game in 2020. Having played four tournaments, Boutier had three top-10 finishes and had shot over par in just one of 14 rounds.
With the LPGA still six weeks away from restarting, Boutier returned to competitive golf this past week at the Women’s Texas Open and proudly saw the form she was carrying four months earlier hadn’t left. With rounds of 68-64-67 at Old American Golf Club in The Colony, Texas, including a birdie and eagle on two of her final three holes, Boutier outpaced runner-up Cheyenne Knight by three strokes and third-place finisher Kristen Gillman by nine.
“I’m over the moon,” said Boutier, who lives now not far from Old American in Dallas. “I could not have expected the week to go better. I wasn’t really sure how the week was going to go because I haven’t played competitively in a while. I’m super excited with the way I handled all three rounds and the way I handled myself today with the nerves and everything.”
Celine Boutier. Photo by Cooper Neill
It wasn’t just the scores that were impressive, but rather the competition she beat. The 119-player field had nearly a dozen LPGA tour pros competing, including former major champions Stacy Lewis (who finished T-11) and Brittany Lang (T-7). Runner-up Knight had won her maiden LPGA title on this same course last October. Other notables in the field included Gerina Pillar (T-11) and Maria Fassi (T-24).
Boutier was the NCAA player of the year during her sophomore season at Duke in 2014, but two years later finished last at the NCAA Championship, her swing and her confidence having disappeared. Slowly and steadily after college, she built her game back, winning on the Ladies European Tour in 2017 and picking up her first LPGA title in February 2019 at the ISPS Handa Vic Open. As a rookie on the European Solheim Cup team, she posted a 4-0 record last September at Gleneagles.
Happily, she has seen the momentum continue into 2020, having risen to 45th in the Rolex Ranking when the 2020 season shut down. Suffice it to say, Boutier looks more than ready for the LPGA to return in July.