Four times the players have finished 36 holes in the CME Group Tour Championship with 12 under 132. Be Young Kim in 2019, Lexi Thompson in 2018, Sung Hyun Park in 2017 and Lydia Ko in 2016 – all tied for the lowest 36 holes in the history of the championship.
On Friday, Celine Boutier blew them all away.
With a second 65 in a row, the 28-year-old from the Paris suburb set a new 36-hole mark with -14. After turning the -1, Boutier came alive on the second nine at Tiburon Golf Club. She carded six birdies, including a chip-in from the fairway in 13th place, and takes the lead with a four-stroke into the last weekend of the LPGA Tour season in 2021.
“I just feel like I was a little frustrated with my front. I only left a couple of shots out there so it was really good to watch it on the back, ”said Boutier. “My long game was really solid all day and I was able to get my shots very close and that was definitely helpful for the second nine.”
The 14-under 130 also sets Boutier’s career-low 36-hole mark, beating the 132 she shot at the 2018 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.
Boutier came to life late in the 2021 season, taking victories at LET’s Lacoste Ladies Open de France in September and the LPGA Tour’s ShopRite LPGA Classic in October. A 63 on the final lap in the latter was a true look-at-me moment when it got her previous Rolex ranking no. 1 players passed Jin Young Ko and Inbee Park for a statement victory.
Now, with $ 1.5 million at stake, Boutier is peaking at just the right time. As someone who admits she’s too tense on the golf course and struggles with self-doubt, she’ll rely on these accomplishments – and some hard-earned personal insights – to keep her emotions in check as they battle for the greatest prize in the world History battles of ladies golf.
“Getting this victory at home and in ShopRite was important. Of course, winning and playing at home is never easy and it definitely helped my confidence to get my second win at ShopRite, which was two and a half years after my first win, ”said Boutier. “You never know. Maybe the first time was luck. You kind of want to confirm it. So it was really big for my confidence, and I just feel a little more comfortable in this situation now.”
CELINE BOUTIER TOPS 36 HOLES CME RANKING
Celine Boutier had a day to spare.
After a second 65 in a row at the CME Group Tour Championship, the Frenchwoman took the four-stroke lead in Naples with -14. Her 130 becomes the best 36-hole score of her career and the tournament as she holds the lead in the second round for the second time in her career. It is the fourth time out of 24 starts this season that Boutier has opened two rounds in a row in the 1960s.
Boutier started with a birdie in first place and reached seven more at the end of the day. “I think I just have to keep doing what I did. My long game has been really solid the past two days so I hope I can keep it up for the next two days. We’ll see how the conditions change on the pitch too. I have the feeling that it is playing a little drier today; definitely windier, ”said Boutier, who started the week in fifth place on the tour.
Boutier, who won her second Tour title at this year’s ShopRite LPGA Classic, is second with -10 in front of three players. Major Champion Minjee Lee and Tour winner Gaby Lopez posted 4 under 68s to join Mina Harigae at -10. Lopez made four rounds in a row at the Pelican Women’s Championship last week for the first time since the 2019 Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic.
“To be honest, my goal today was to just hold out, try to get it a little close and put really good roles on it,” said Harigae. “I’m happy with the way my back nine landed.”
Four are tied in fifth place at -9, including 18-hole leader Jeongeun Lee6, who scored a 1-under 71 at Tiburon on Friday, and Rolex No. 1 leaderboard Nelly Korda. “I think I can do more putts and I think my iron shots were easy on a couple of holes here and there,” said Korda, who is one of five Americans in the top 10, so I think I can Mastered pretty well. Hopefully I can get some better insight into birdies before the weekend. “
Defending champion Jin Young Ko and 2018 winner Lexi Thompson are two of four players fighting back into Saturday at -8 from six shots. Ko needs a second place or better to have the chance to win the Rolex Player of the Year Award. She struggles with persistent wrist pain felt in her backswing but is still enjoying her last event of a spectacular season.
“I don’t have 100 percent confidence in my swing or whatever; Just hit the ball straight, just choose the right club and the right wind direction, and read a break correctly, “said Ko.” Yes, just enjoy. It’s fun. “