Rookie reigns in Bonville

French trailblazer Celine Boutier has added a second Ladies European Tour title to her name with a resounding win in the inaugural Australian Ladies Classic Bonville in Coffs Harbour today.

It took longer than expected. Throughout the week the heavens threatened to deluge the Coffs Harbour region, and despite many false starts the downpours and lightning finally gave way around 1.45pm – stopping play for more than three hours.

All it did was delay the inevitable. Boutier, who started the day five strokes ahead of her nearest rival, stared down the challengers one-by-one to record her second LET win, four months after capturing her maiden title at the Sanya Ladies Open in November.

“It was hard, and I was a little bit nervous,” 24-year-old Boutier admitted later, concerned the sustained rain and fading light might halt her momentum when play finally resumed at 5.45pm (AEDST).

“It’s not always easy when you have to get back out in the middle of a round but I did my best.”

The biggest challenge was meant to come from Hannah Green, but her putter let her down this week. The 22-year-old West Australian, considered the hottest talent in the women’s ranks in Australia, found the greens difficult to read and managed a high finish in the event without setting the place on fire.

Her week was best illustrated by her final hole in the event, where she drove the ball to 150m on the par-five 18th, struck a beautiful iron 12 feet from the hole and then three-putted. Still, she said all week that she was struggling with her putter.

“The first two days I can’t complain about but the last two days there was no momentum. I said to Paul (her caddy) ‘That pretty sums up the week right there, in front of everyone’.”

Boutier also saw off the challenge from Holly Clyburn, which never came throughout the weekend despite the Briton leading after the opening two rounds.

The fight came from the young American Katie Burnett. Something changed from the 28-year-old’s previous two LPGA starts – where she missed both cuts. On moving day here, Saturday, she moved up the leaderboard with the equal-best round of the day. Then on contending day, she gave Boutier a scare.

The Georgian missed a four-footer for eagle on 7, then missed genuine birdie chances on 12, 14, and 17, but had reduced Boutier’s lead throughout the afternoon from five to the eventual two strokes the French youngster needed to win.

“Celine played really well. I missed a few opportunities, but I did start the day five back, and I started the tournament four-over through 11. If you had’ve told me then that I would finish second I would’ve been like ‘ok, great’.”

Of the Australians, Queenslander Rebecca Artis said on Saturday she could win from six back, but a one-over front nine ended those hopes. The talented Queenslander will take full confidence into her first season on the LPGA with a strong back nine, to finish at -1 for the day and -4 for the tournament in T7.


“I didn’t make enough putts,” the 29-year-old said.

“In the last two days I had to get my husband (who is also her caddy) in to help me read them. Overall, top 10. I’m not too unhappy with that.”

The fight for leading amateur came down to a birdie for Stephanie Bunque on the last hole, putting the young Victorian into the top 20 and securing her the plate.

“I thought it was really good in the end,” Bunque said of her week.

“It was pretty evident on the first day that I struggled with the greens (she shot 77). Coming from Melbourne we’re not used to grainy greens.

“But I thought I bounced back very well for the next three days. I kept my cool, knew what I had to do and go out there and do it.”

 

LEADERBOARD (after final round)

1: Boutier, Celine – 10
2: Burnett, Katie – 8
3: Jonsdottir, Valdis – 7
4: Holmqvist, Daniela – 6
T5: Madsen, Nanna – 3
T5: Clyburn, Holly – 5
T7: Danielson, Casey – 4
T7: Artis, Rebecca – 4
T9: Thompson, Charlotte – 3
T9: Green, Hannah – 3

FRENCH RESISTANCE ON SHOW AT BONVILLE

The threats were meant to be coming, but it’s the youngster Celine Boutier who is poised for the biggest win of her professional career as the Australian Ladies Classic – Bonville enters the business end here at Coffs Harbour.

Starting with a five-shot lead overnight, the 24-year-old has added two birdies on the front nine to be at -12 for the tournament and unlikely to be caught.

Briton Holly Clyburn’s wishes for the “rub of the green” today seem to have evaporated, with just a single bogey in between regulation pars through the front nine, and with the leader seemingly out of reach.

The biggest challenge has come from young American Katie Burnett who scored back-to-back birdies on six and seven. But it could have been even better, narrowly missing a four-footer on seven for eagle, then a 12-footer on eight for birdie. Nevertheless, this tournament is still for the taking despite the buffer Boutier enjoys.

The finishing stretch of holes on the incredible Bonville course starts from 12, with challenges throughout the finish.

Australians Hannah Green and Rebecca Artis are probably too far back now. Green has played solid to be at even par for the day, whilst Artis is one-over for her round which is now on the back nine.

LEADERBOARD (after 10 holes)
1: Boutier, Celine – 12
2: Burnett, Katie – 8
T3: Holmqvist, Daniela – 6
T3: Jonsdottir, Valdis – 6
T5: Cowan, Olivia – 5
T5: Madsen, Nanna – 5
T7:Clyburn, Holly – 4
T7: Green, Hannah – 4
T9: Danielson, Casey -2
T9: Thanapolboonyaras, Pannarat – 2
T9: Artis, Rebecca – 2

WHO’LL CHASE DOWN BARNSTORMING BOUTIER?

French youngster Celine Boutier will take a five-shot lead into today’s final round of the Australian Ladies Classic Bonville, but the chasers are confident she won’t have it easy.

Starting yesterday’s round two behind overnight leader, Briton Holly Clyburn, the diminutive 24-year-old played flawless golf to put daylight between herself and the field in this Ladies European Tour-sanctioned event.

In a field where experts suggest the title might be lifted by either Clyburn or Australian Hannah Green – who started as tournament favourite – Boutier simply got on with the job of racking up birdies in conditions which tested even the veterans.

“Celine played fantastic out there. She did not miss anything. I didn’t expect her to go out there and shoot 67 at all, in these conditions. It was her day,” said Clyburn, who started the third round at -8 but slipped back into a share of second with a disappointing two-over 74.


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“I’m in touching distance, you don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I’m hoping that she (Boutier) doesn’t do that (again) tomorrow and that I get the rub of the green. We’ll just wait and see.”

Boutier said she wouldn’t change her strategy despite holding a big lead.

“My strategy has been working very well. And I think the girls can shoot very low, so I don’t think I should be too conservative,” the 24-year-old said.

Australians Hannah Green (-4) and Rebecca Artis (-3) are within striking distance, but Green will need her putter working to have a chance at this inaugural title.

“The bogeys have come because I’ve been three-putting, which is quite unusual. I’m usually more consistent, but I’m glad I’m making this many birdies. Hopefully, the scorecard will be a little cleaner (today),” the West Australian said.

The 22-year-old still has the confidence she can win.

“If you want to win, you have to believe you can,” she said.

Artis has won from this distance before, and is confident she can apply some pressure.

“I’m not too far back … I can win from there. I’ve won from there before. I won in Scotland from six back, and I won in Sweden from six back. I’ll just go out and see if I can get it going and put some pressure on during the back nine,” the 29-year-old said.

Catch all the action in today’s final round LIVE on Fox Sports More – CH507 from 1pm.

LEADERBOARD (after third round)

1: Boutier, Celine – 11
2: Clyburn, Holly – 6
T3: Burnett, Katie -5
T3: Holmqvist, Daniela – 5
T3: Cowan, Olivia – 5
T3: Jonsdottir, Valdis – 5
7: Green, Hannah – 4
T8: Artis, Rebecca – 3
T8: Madsen, Nanna – 3
10: Parker, Florentyna – 2