Sanya, China: French rookie pro Celine Boutier delivered a stunning back nine birdie spree en route to a commanding four-stroke success in the Sanya Ladies Open.
Boutier, who held a share of the lead or led throughout the 54-hole tournament, closed with a final round 68 to finish on 12-under 204. The victory in the China LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and Asian Ladies Golf Tour co-sanctioned event was worth US$45,000.
Korean Lee So-lar (69) was a distant second, while Icelander Valdis Thora Jonsdottir (72) ended third, five shots off the pace at Hainan Island’s Yalong Bay Golf Club. Lin Xiyu (68), Liu Ruixin (72) and Pan Yanhong (73) were the top Chinese in the 125-player field, 10 shots off the winning mark.
Boutier started the day with a one-shot lead and gave the field a chance when she dropped consecutive shots starting at the fourth hole to fall to six-under. She rebounded with a birdie at the 515-yard ninth and never looked back.
With four consecutive birdies from the 11th hole and another at the 16th hole, the 24-year-old Montrouge native cruised to her third victory of the year.
“I played pretty well all season long. I just feel my game is there. I feel very good to be in the last group and learn a lot. I am very happy to win this week,” said Boutier, who has earned her card for the US LPGA Tour next season after finishing third on the Symetra Tour Money List this year.
“I felt trouble in the first couple of holes. The birdie on hole nine made me feel relaxed and I focused on my shots for the back nine. I didn’t really see the leaderboard. I just focused on my own game. On hole16, after I hit on the green, I saw the leaderboard and realised that I had a four-shot lead and I know maybe I will win.”
Lee, who was tied for the lead with Boutier at seven-under through 11 holes, posted her fourth top-10 finish of the China LPGA Tour season in six starts with a final round that featured five birdies and two bogeys.
Lin, the 2014 Sanya Ladies Open champion, put together her best round of the week in closing with seven birdies and three bogeys. She said her strong performance had come at the right time as it made her confident that she could win back her playing card for next season on the US LPGA Tour.
Next week she will return to Florida to prepare for the final stage of the qualifying school at the end of the month.