France’s Céline Boutier won her first Ladies European Tour title by a four-stroke margin at the Sanya Ladies Open in Hainan, China.
With a final round of 68, played in warm and breezy conditions, the 24-year-old Parisienne recorded a 54-hole total of 12-under-par and became the second French rookie to win in a fortnight after Camille Chevalier’s victory at the Hero Women’s Indian Open.
The former Duke star opened with rounds of 67 and 69 to take a one-stroke advantage into the final round at Yalong Bay Golf Club. She bogeyed the fourth and fifth holes, handing a one-stroke lead to Valdis Thora Jonsdottir from Iceland, who then birdied the eighth, but Boutier made her first birdie at the ninth, where Jonsdottir dropped a shot.
Tied for the lead on seven-under at the turn, Boutier then made four straight birdies from the 11th and added another at the 16th in a back nine of 32, to finish four shots clear of Solar Lee from South Korea.
Boutier earned 45,000 euros for the victory, her third of the year after two wins on the US Symetra Tour, as well as a two-year exemption to the LET and a place in the Evian Championship.
“It’s amazing. It’s my first time playing in this event and my first time in China, so I couldn’t have expected the week to have gone any better,” Boutier said. “My putting was on fire on the back nine, so that helped me to get birdies. It was a lot of fun. The weather has been great and we were staying right by the beach, so it was a great mix of playing golf and going to the beach to relax.”
China LPGA Tour rookie Lee, 29, who won on the Dream Tour in Korea this summer, ended on eight-under-par after carding a 69. She said: “I was quite nervous on the first tee but I tried my best to enjoy the experience. I’m very happy with the result.”
Jonsdottir, another LET rookie, was third alone on seven-under, the best ever finish by an Icelandic player.
She said: “I couldn’t hole a putt today, but that’s okay. I was playing solidly but I lost a ball on nine. I had been playing well and I guess I got a bit too much adrenaline flowing. It is what it is. A top-three finish is good. I’m disappointed I didn’t get the win, but Céline played really well and she putted amazingly, especially on the back nine.
“I needed to make about 10,000 euros from the last two tournaments to keep my card, so I think I’ve covered that, heading into the season-ending event in Dubai.”
The Ladies European Tour now takes a one-week break before The Queens presented by Kowa, a team event, which will be played in Japan on December 1-3, followed by the Omega Dubai Ladies Classic on December 6-9.