Céline Boutier comes home to the Evian championship a winner

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When Céline Boutier of France returned home this week for the Evian championship, she arrived in Évian-les-Bains as a different player than then she stepped home at 2018.

Boutier, a resident of Clamart, is now an LPGA Tour winner.

And even at the age of 25, the third-year tour member brings new expectations to the big championship, not only as a young professional on the rise, but also as & # 39; the world's best-ranked woman from France on Nr. . 71.

She posted three top 10 finishes in 2019, including her inaugural LPGA victory in February at the ISPS Handa Vic Open in Australia. She also ranked fifth at the United States Women's Open in May this year.

"I am pretty excited to go back home to play," said Boutier, who lives in Dallas and works with swing coach Cameron McCormick, swing guru of PGA Tour winner Jordan Spieth.

"I have more confidence about my game, so I am also more positive about going well and performing well at Evian," said Boutier. "I didn't play well there for a while, so I'm looking forward to the challenge."

The 2019 Evian Championship will only be the fourth time at this event for Boutier, who finished 29th when she played as an amateur in 2014, and finished one shot behind Karine Icher, the highest player in France at that moment.

Boutier played again at Evian Resort Golf Club as an amateur in 2015 and missed the cut. Evian played as a pro in her first year and finished 69th in the 2018 championship.

"She is very accurate, calm and smart for her age and experience as a young professional," said Icher, who is six of been the best French finisher in Evian for the last ten years.

But Boutier, whose parents are Thai, was not a child who grew up confidently on the outskirts of Paris.

"I was never super talented," she said in March during the LPGA & # 39; s Bank of Hope Founders Cup. "I feel that when I started, many people said I would never go there because I was too robotic, that I didn't really have the level [of skill] and I wasn't good enough."

Due to planning conflicts with the French national championships – which were held simultaneously with the Evian tournament – Boutier missed receiving amateur invitations to the Evian when it was held for many years in July. The former French national team member helped her country win the European Team Championships 2010 and 2011.

By the time the Evian was moved to a late summer date, she was at school at Duke University, where she would become the national player of the year 2013-14 as a freshman and help Duke win an NCAA Women's Division I Golf Championships, set in motion by her second place.

When she accepted the invitation to play the Evian in 2014, it fulfilled a childhood dream.

"I would watch TV every year, and it was always a big problem," Boutier said.

The transition from Boutier to professional golf was characterized by steady, gradual progress. She had a conditional play status on the L.P.G.A. 2017. tour, but chose to spend the season on his Symetra Tour pipeline in 2017, where she had eight top-10 finishes, including two wins.

That performance brought her to number 3 on the 2017 Symetra Tour & # 39; s seasonal money list, which rewarded her with the full 2018 LPGA tour membership. Boutier earned her first L.P.G.A. top 10 with a third place on the Blue Bay L.P.G.A. 2018 tournament.

And her new self-confidence was fully shown when she had a low of 63 in the third round of the 2018 Thornberry Creek L.P.G.A. Classic.

But the soft, nonflashy player has always focused on small individual targets with laser focus.

"I met her for the first time when we were freshman at Duke, and nothing really stood out in her game, but the more I was around her, the more I realized how good she is," Yu said Liu from Beijing, ranked No. 37 worldwide.

"Céline takes the practice very seriously and is a well-rounded player," said Liu, who was part of the Duke 2014 championship team with Boutier.

But even under the guidance of Dan Brooks, the Duke ladies golf coach, whose teams have won seven national titles, and McCormick, who has polished Boutier's confidence in the course, struggled with her self-confidence before coming for first won.

"I used to be more dependent on my golf coaches and the opinions of other people, and now I am more confident in my swing and the way I approach the game," Boutier said.

" I knew I could finish in the top 10 last year, but I just wasn't convinced I had the level to win, "she added." Unless you think you can do it, you won't do it . "

And when victory came early this year, Boutier was perhaps the only one who was not surprised.

" She knows how to treat herself when it really matters and when you have the chance to win, that's what makes the real difference between the biggest players and the good players, "said Liu.

Icher, who had a pair with Boutier in last week's LPGA team tournament in Michigan , saw how Boutier entered the US Women Open this year, Icher said she believed Boutier would not oblemen would have with the expectations of the Evian homeland.

And Brooks said her return as a tournament winner could make her return home even sweeter.

"Wins a way to relieve pressure," he said. "Going to her country as a winner should be a relief."

Boutier admitted that she had a mixture of excitement and stress to play Evian, but she also acknowledged that she was going to a new place in her life had moved like a tournament winner.

"I have proven myself to win a tournament, and I hope this is just the beginning," said Boutier, who is also able to secure a place at European Solheim this year . Cup team in Scotland mid-September.

"It's not that easy to get your first win over the LPGA, and some people never do that," she said.

Boutier's top-five finish at the Women's Open also indicated that she was ready to compete for major championships.

The Evian Championship, the fourth of the five majors of the LPGA, is on a course that matches her game and rewards the kind of accurate approach shots she usually hits, Boutier said. She has a seasonal average of 71.4 percent greens hit in regulation.

Her first dream came true five years ago when she was asked to play with Evian. Now she has learned to dream bigger.

"Frankly, if there was one tournament that I could choose to win," she said, "it would be this one."

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