GALLOWAY, N.J. | Sometimes the game gives you great winners and sometimes you get memorable finishes. In the 2021 ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer, you got both.
Celine Boutier, the 27-year-old from Montrouge, France who now lives in Dallas, Texas, posted a career-low 63 Sunday on the Bay Course at Seaview, a Dolce Hotel, to finish the 54-hole event 14-under par. Boutier, who has had a remarkable year with appearances in the Olympics and on the victorious European Solheim Cup team and followed those memorable moments with a victory in her home country at the Lacoste Ladies Open de France on the Ladies European Tour, did not expect her day in New Jersey to be over after signing her card. That’s because the No. 2 and No. 3 players in the Rolex Rankings, Jin Young Ko and Inbee Park, had eight- and seven-footers respectively for birdies on 18 to tie the lead. When both missed, a stunned Boutier had her second career LPGA Tour victory and her second professional win in three starts.
Seaview also had another classic finish. This was, after all, the place that hosted the 1942 PGA Championship. Sam Snead won that one, his first major championship and the last major played before sports took a break for World War II. The day after collecting the Wannamaker trophy, Snead reported for duty in the United States Navy.
That is one of the many great stories from this site. You had Betsy King outlasting Rosie Jones and Beth Daniel here in the ShopRite LPGA Classic in 1995. A year later Dottie Pepper ran away from the field, beating Amy Benz by four and Annika Sorenstam by five. Annika won here two years after that, beating Juli Inkster by four. A year after that an unknown player from South Korea named Se Ri Pak broke into the winner’s circle and began what would become a world-changing career.
King won again in 2001, followed by another win from Sorenstam, who would add a third a few years later. Angela Stanford, Cristie Kerr, Ai Miyazato, Brittany Lincicome, Stacy Lewis, Karrie Webb, Lexi Thompson: the list of winners at Seaview is a who’s who of women’s golf.
While that might surprise some people, it shouldn’t. Classic golf courses produce classic drama and great champions. Look back through history: the best champions and the best drama often come from the best courses – at least those venues that have withstood the test of time with a nod to the golden age of golf architecture. Betsy Rawls at Winged Foot in 1957; Mickey Wright at Baltursol in 1961; Annika at Broadmoor and Pine Needles; Paula Creamer at Oakmont. Again, the list goes on.
Classic courses didn’t get that moniker because of their age. Vermeer wasn’t the only Dutch artist in the mid-1600s. He was just the best. Classics become classics because they withstand the test of time over generations. Olympic Club was just as stern a test in 1955 and 1966 as it was earlier this spring.
The Bay Course at Seaview isn’t Oakmont or Olympic. But it doesn’t have to be. At just a tick over 6,000 yards, it provides just as much drama as any other Donald Ross gem from the golden age.
And Boutier is just as worthy a champion. A woman who worked hard on her distance, who won twice on the Symetra Tour before breaking out with her first LPGA Tour victory at the 2019 ISPS Handa Vic Open, she was a star on the 2019 Solheim Cup team in Scotland and a veteran in the European team room again in 2021. She is also a three-time winner on the LET, the last of which came in mid-September at Gold du Médoc Resort in her home country.
“It has been an insane year,” Boutier said after the victory in New Jersey. “I have to add the Olympics to that, which was the most amazing experience, and to back it up with winning the Solheim Cup on U.S. soil is definitely very special. To top it off, winning my second [LPGA Tour] win is just unbelievable. I can't even rank which one is better. It's just so different. But it's definitely going to be a very special year for me.”
A special year. A special place. Beating two of the game’s best. It might be hard for Boutier to come up with a word to describe it, despite her complete mastery of the English language. But for students of the game, that word is easy.
This one was classic.