Celine Boutier, 26, paved the way for her place in the 2019 European Solheim Cup side by winning the ISPC Handa Victoria Open. Though she had a grand amateur career behind her and had won two events on the Symetra Tour in 2017, this shy Frenchwoman from Montrouge on the outskirts of Paris was noticeably short on confidence until that Australian triumph.
She went on from there to have strong finishes in that summer’s majors, with the best of them a fifth place in the US Open. Next, she had a closing 66 to finish sixth in the Women’s British Open at Woburn, at which point she felt confident that she would be one of Catriona Matthew’s four wild-card choices at Gleneagles. Yet something was worrying her. Immediately after that 66 she confessed that she was concerned that she did not know any of her would-be European teammates.
Typically, Catriona Matthews, the captain, was aware of matches past in which there were Europeans who, having won their places via the LET circuit. had felt like the odd ones out. Hence the reason the Scot had made it her business to make each of her players feel as valued as the next.
Where Paul McGinley, the European captain at the 2014 Ryder Cup, had asked Graeme McDowell to support that shy Frenchman, Victor Dubuisson through that match, so Matthew decided that Georgia Hall should partner with Boutier.
The pair won all three of their matches together (they came back from 4 down on the Saturday afternoon) and closed the week with four points apiece. Afterwards, the captain paid tribute to Boutier’s “superb short game” which had so complemented Hall’s long iron play.
Whilst naturally shy, Boutier has never been less than courageous. After her spell at Duke, where she graduated in psychology, she decided to move from France to America. “It was very strange for a while because I was just there by myself and didn’t know anyone,” she said. “It was very hard.
“But I think it was necessary for me if I was going to play my best and be the golfer that I can be. I’m very happy I made that decision. Professionally, I think it’s the best thing I could have done.”
Yet she will tell you that she loved those amateur days when she played for the French National team, and that those were the events she looked forward to the most. In keeping with which, she says she is “super-excited” that the next Solheim Cup is to be played at the same venue – the Inverness Club in Toledo – where she finished second in this year’s Drive On championship behind Danielle Kang.
She just missed with the five-footer she needed to force a play-off with the American. Unlike years before, this near miss did not send her into a downward spiral. If anything, it steeled her and will drive her to greater things.
AXA XL, the property & casualty and specialty risk division of AXA, provides insurance and risk management products and services for mid-sized companies through to large multinationals, and reinsurance solutions to insurance companies globally. AXA XL proudly serves as the Official Property/Casualty, Reinsurance, Auto and Professional Liability Insurance Sponsor of the LPGA. Additionally AXA XL has partnered with the LPGA on a season-long AXA LPGA Volunteer Service Award which recognizes tournament volunteers who have exemplified the spirit of volunteerism and gone above and beyond expectations. For more information, please visit www.axaxl.com