SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota, September 2, 2017 - Celine Boutier (Montrouge, France), No. 4 on the Volvik Race for the Card money list, knew she needed a spectacular round to have any chance to win on Sunday. She got exactly that. Boutier made six birdies and an eagle to tie the Willow Run Course Record with an 8-under, 63 on Saturday to vault from a tie for eighth to the 54-hole lead. She is 11-under, 202 with 18 left. Former Symetra Tour professional Brittany Altomare, who now plays on the LPGA, carded a 63 at Willow Run in 2015.
Boutier will take a one-stroke lead into Sunday over Benyapa Niphatsophon (Bangkok, Thialand), who ranks second on the money list. Emily Childs (Alameda, Calif.) is two back at 9-under, 204.
A win and the $31,500 first-place payout for Boutier or Niphatsophon would secure their spot on the LPGA in 2018.
Boutier, 23, made birdie on her first two holes to ignite the round. She finished the front nine with a birdie on seven, an eagle on eight and a birdie on nine. Boutier made birdie on 12 to get into a share of the lead with Emily Childs (Alameda, Calif.) and then made an 18-footer on 14 to assume the top spot. She made par on her final four holes.
“It’s pretty incredible, I didn’t really expect to be playing this well,” said Boutier, who posted rounds of 69-70 on the first two days. “I knew I had to make some birdies if I wanted to have a chance for tomorrow. I’m so happy with how my round went. It was a lot of birdies and one eagle so that is always good.”
Boutier drove the reachable 8th green from the moved-up tee box and capitalized.
“We had about 240 yards to the green so I hit my driver,” explained Boutier, who won the Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic earlier this season. “I had about 16 feet and holed out for eagle.”
After attempting 32 putts each of the first two days, Boutier took just 27 strokes on Saturday.
“My whole game from driver to putter was pretty steady,” said Boutier. “I put myself in good position and I wasn’t above the hole much. I feel like everything went my way.”
Boutier won the second biggest event of the season in Greenwood, which carries a purse of $200,000. She now has a chance to win the two biggest tournaments of the season.
“I like to think I play well in majors,” said Boutier. “The three weeks we had off was very good for me because I’ve been playing a lot so I needed the rest. The timing is really good for me this week.”
Boutier has six top 10 finishes this season and has earned over $65,000.
Niphatsophon, who has four second place finishes this season, said that she isn't worried about winning on Sunday or finishing on top of the money list.
“I just want to have fun,” said Niphatsophon, who has likely earned enough already to finish in the top 10. “Celine is a very good player so it’ll be tough on Sunday.”