Just one week after breaking through with the first individual win of her career, sophomore Celine Boutier once again stood on the 18th green Sunday with a putt to win.
Tied for the lead after dealing with stomach pains for most of the day, Boutier drained the five-footer for birdie to notch a one-stroke victory in the PING/ASU Invitational on the par-72 Karsten Golf Course. Led by Boutier’s three-day total of 208, No. 3 Duke finished tied for second as a team against a field that drew seven top-10 teams to Tempe, Ariz. The Blue Devils’ final tally of 859 left them six shots off South Carolina’s winning total.
Leading for most of the weekend, Boutier put up rounds of 69, 69, and 70 to top Arizona State’s Noemi Jimenez, who stormed into contention with a final round 66. Grouped with Jimenez in Sunday morning’s final pairing, Boutier was able to watch as the Sun Devil put up six birdies over the course of the day, including one on the 17th hole that knotted the two atop the leaderboard. But Boutier’s birdie on the subsequent hole gave the Montrouge, France, native her second victory in as many weeks.
Boutier outlasted both the field and inclement weather last week to take home the Bryan National Collegiate in Summit, N.C.
“She won where everyone in the field was struggling to shoot par and then she won where she went considerably under par,” head coach Dan Brooks said. “It shows she can play and win in any condition.”
Senior Blue Devil Laetitia Beck also contested for the individual title this weekend, finishing three shots back of Boutier with a five-under-par total of 211.
“I saw some frustration from Laetitia in this tournament, and I think that’s a positive,” Brooks said. “She’s realizing that she is right on the cusp of playing really great golf. A couple of little things kept her from winning this time. She’s really close.”
Freshman Yu Liu overcame spotty ball-striking to add to her impressive freshman campaign, firing a final round 66 to end the weekend five shots off the lead. After struggling on the range while warming up Sunday morning, Liu fired off seven birdies to propel herself to into a seventh place finish.
“She really didn’t hit it her best in this tournament, and I think she would consider that to be kind of an off tournament,” Brooks said. “To me that demonstrates her determination…. That’s pretty good when you’re not hitting it that well to finish the way she finished.”
The top-10 finish is Liu’s seventh as a Blue Devil, as the Beijing native has not finished worse than ninth in a tournament since arriving in Durham.
Senior Alejandra Congrejo and freshman Sandy Choi rounded out Duke’s lineup, and finished tied for 54th and 62nd, respectively. Duke moved up to second after finishing Friday in fifth place, but was unable to close the gap Sunday to notch the team’s third straight victory and fourth of the season.
Despite falling short as a team this weekend, Duke will plenty of momentum into the ACC championship later this month, where the squad will be the heavy favorite.