Celine Boutier has been working on her long game, literally and figuratively.
The 29-year-old, who last won on the LPGA Tour at the 2021 ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer, is looking for her third LPGA title in a prolonged quest to become the winningest Frenchwoman in tour history. She put herself in contention plenty of times last season, finding 12 top-10 finishes, but couldn’t quite pull off the win.
“I would love to win this season,” Boutier said on Friday. “I definitely (was) playing very solid last year. I feel like I put myself in a lot of positions last year; wasn’t able to turn (them) into wins, so I hope that this year is going to be a little bit different.”
One of Boutier’s top 10s in 2022 was a third-place result at the Honda LPGA Thailand. With just 18 holes to play, the Frenchwoman finds herself in that same position in 2023: solo third place at 15-under, just five shots back of the lead. To turn that opportunity into a win there are two keys for Boutier: keep calm and go long.
“I think I tend to tense up a little bit on the final rounds because I feel like I want to do too well,” Boutier said after shooting five-under on Saturday. “Hopefully I can just relax a little bit more tomorrow and just have confidence in my game.”
Friday, Boutier went 6-under powered by five birdies on the back nine. She said seeing a birdie fall on 12 gave her some relief and allowed her to relax and keep pouring them in. Shooting low is essential on the Pattaya Old Course at Siam Country Club, so if relaxing yields birdies for Boutier that’s what she’ll need to do on Sunday.
The more technical focus for Boutier has been her ball striking. At the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions, she only averaged 237 yards off the tee and hit just 37 of 56 fairways resulting in a T26 finish.
In the four weeks since, Boutier has worked out the kinks in her long game and it’s been integral to her success in Thailand. So far, the Frenchwoman is averaging 258 yards off the tee and has only missed four fairways at the Pattaya Old Course.
“I worked a lot on my long game,” Boutier said. “Coming back from the off-season I didn’t feel very comfortable until now, and I feel like it’s just getting back into the groove this week. It feels nice to be able to hit it close again.”
With the ever-increasing parity on tour, it’s a long road to winning on the LPGA. Boutier is trying for a third win, which is an even lengthier journey. She’s playing the long game and it looks like her best bet is to just relax and enjoy the ride.