AYRSHIRE, Scotland — There’s just no stopping Celine Boutier. Fresh from her maiden major victory in the Evian Championship seven days ago, the Frenchwoman added the Freed Group Women’s Scottish Open trophy to her mantelpiece here at sunny Dundonald Links.
At this rate, even those Just Stop Oil protesters would have trouble disrupting Boutier’s glory-laden run. With the AIG Women’s Open next on the schedule this week, what are the chances of a shimmering triple whammy?
“Oh, my gosh,” she gasped with a chuckle when asked about that possibility by the mischievous golf writers. “I think if I win again, I may just retire.”
This latest victory, the fourth by a French player in the Women’s Scottish Open, was not without drama but, in the end, it was a comfortable conquest. A lay-up down the last and a couple of canny putts in a closing 2-under 70 gave Boutier a 15-under aggregate and a two-shot victory over the fast-finishing Hyo-Joo Kim of Korea with China’s Ruoning Yin taking third on 12 under.
Boutier, runner-up in this event at Dundonald a year ago, enjoyed team success on Scottish soil back in 2019 when she won four matches out of four during a thrilling Solheim Cup debut at Gleneagles. This individual triumph, though, ticked a sizeable box on her career to-do list.
“Winning in Scotland, in the home of golf, is just amazing as it’s been on my bucket list,” she said.
The magnitude of Boutier’s major moment in her native land a week ago took a considerable physical and emotional toll. Backing up a victory like that with another win takes some doing.
“This win feels a bit unexpected just because I won last week,” she admitted. “The odds of me winning this week would have been pretty high so I am just in shock and incredibly grateful.”
Boutier had led by three strokes from Thailand’s Patty Tavatanakit and Maja Stark of Sweden going into the final day. Tavatanakit made an early statement with a birdie on the first hole but it was going to take more than that to ruffle Boutier’s feathers. Stark, meanwhile, saw her ambitions suffer a hefty dunt with a double-bogey on the fourth.
A couple of holes later, though, she was celebrating a hole-in-one when her wedge to the sixth bounced into the cup and injected her push with back-slapping, high-fiving vigour.
Boutier was keeping them all at bay, however, and she was still three in front at the turn. Ahead of her on the links, there were gallant charges being made. Korea’s A Lim Kim, the former U.S. Women’s Open champion, came barging up the order with a burst of six birdies in seven holes from the ninth to get to within two.
Kim’s bold assault ended on an unlucky note, though, when her approach to the 18th thumped the flag, careered into the water and led to a bogey in a 66 for 11 under.
The final group, meanwhile, were still embroiled in a nip-and-tuck tussle. Tavatanakit spurned a good birdie opportunity on 14 and must have been kicking herself as Boutier then made an unlikely bogey with a three-putt on the same green. It was the first sign of a shoogle from the leader.
“That was stupid,” she later admitted.
Boutier’s superb par save from the back of the 15th, though, was the stuff of a true champion while Tavatanakit’s challenge was dealt a mortal blow when she fluffed her chip from a similarly treacherous position and scribbled a double-bogey onto her card. Stark, the other member of the final group, had also fallen away but there were still menacing forces at work.
Hyo-Joo Kim, a major champion back in 2014, mounted a valiant push and a birdie on the last to polish off a surging 65 set the clubhouse target of 13-under. As Kim was trotting into the recording hut, Boutier made a bogey on 16 to see her advantage reduced to just a stroke. There was no panic, though. A raking birdie putt on the 17th restored her cushion and the champion in waiting could enjoy a relatively carefree meander down the 18th. Cue a gulp of the victory champagne? Not quite.
“I’ll just celebrate after next week,” she said of this breathless spell of golf she is currently immersed in.
On the home front, Gemma Dryburgh closed with a 74 for level-par while Louise Duncan had a 73 for 4-over.
It was Boutier’s day. Again.