LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA | For Celine Boutier, there is no such thing as easing into the season. While some players consider the season-opening Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions a relaxing, celebrity-infused tune-up, Boutier feels just the opposite.
She came prepared to not just compete but to win.
“I utilize the off-season pretty well and by the time the first tournament is here, I try to be as ready as I can,” Boutier told LPGA.com at the season-opener, where she sits T4 after 36 holes. “I really want to be ready to win in the first event.”
That’s her approach every season. In 2019, that strategy paid off. She won in her first start of the year at the ISPS Handa Vic Open for her first victory on the LPGA Tour. It became a springboard to a career best season for the 2017 rookie who recorded three top 10s, two of which came in major championships. She further solidified her position in the upper echelon of women’s golf when she qualified for her first Solheim Cup team and was a stalwart for the Europeans. The Frenchwoman went 4-0-0 to help lift her team to victory.
But that’s not enough for Boutier, who is focused on winning more in 2020.
After the season wrapped up in November, she gave herself two weeks off before getting right back to work on her game. Rested and reenergized for the New Year, Boutier targeted her weaknesses in 2019: driving distance and short game. Last season, Boutier ranked No. 141 on Tour off the tee at 248.02. She ranked No. 56 in putting average.
“Just trying to be more consistent and and score more regularly under par,” Boutier explained. “I’m hoping that it’s going to show during the season. I’m very excited to get back out there and hopefully get more wins.”
Once again, in her first start of the year, Boutier is well positioned for a victory.
Friday, she leapt into contention after making an ace at the 178-yard, par 3, fifth hole. It was her first hole-in-one on the LPGA Tour and just the second of her career. Even the soft-spoken Boutier, who was paired with MLB All-Star Josh Donaldson and actor Michael Peña, was egged on by her celebrity playing partners to erupt in celebration.
“Josh’s personality is really outgoing and same for Michael, so they were kind of celebrating like it was their own. It was really fun,” Boutier said with a laugh. “It was a really cool experience.”
Although Boutier is all about the business of contending at the season-opener, she has embraced the celebrity format. She was amazed by their skill level, but quickly came to learn that their drive to excel doesn’t stop when they step on the golf course.
“You can tell they’re very good athletes because they’re looking for perfection and you can tell they’re really motivated and they’re really good golfers,” Boutier said. “I was talking about it with my caddie, when you’re at a sport and then you want to take something and master it.”
If there’s one thing Boutier has mastered it’s the art of preparation. For the second year in a row, she has a chance to win in her season debut.
Which is exactly what she came prepared to do.