Boutier plays herself into a share of third with Sharp and Clanton
By noon today, the talk of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship was the fantastic morning round by Celine Boutier after posting a sizzling score of 64 (-8 under). She became the clubhouse leader with a two-round total of -7 under and a 2-shot lead over the first-round leader Lizette Salas, playing in the afternoon wave.
Boutier, a native of France, attended Duke University on a golf scholarship, before turning professional in 2016. Highlights of her career to date include a victory at the ISPS Handa Vic Open in 2019 and her participation on the Solheim Cup winning European team, also in 2019.
After an opening round 73 (+1 ), Boutier wasn’t feeling comfortable with her swing, hooking many of her iron shots left, so after her round she hit the range trying to sort out her problem. After finding something in her swing, she felt confident that she could perform better today and the proof was undeniable.
Boutier played near flawless golf, with excellent ball-striking, particularly in her approaches to the greens where she managed 16 of 18 "Greens in Regulation" - (GIR). With putting being one of the strongest parts of Boutier’s game, she was able to convert many of her Greens In Regulation into birdies, recording 7-birdies and an eagle on the day along with a total of 27 putts. Her only blemish on the scorecard was a bogey five on the 397-yard, 8th hole, finding the greenside bunker that cost her a shot.
“I was able to hit my irons a lot closer today, so I had a lot of closer putts compared to yesterday. Obviously, made a lot of them. So I think it was a combination of hitting it closer and also making the putts behind that kind of helped me get a lot of birdies."
Canadian in the Hunt
After two rounds, a Canadian is in a tie for third place at -7 under par for the tournament. Golf audiences though, are more accustomed to seeing that Canadian being Brooke Henderson, but her friend and fellow Canadian Alena Sharp is indeed that player. Sharp has been struggling with her game this season, particularly her putting. She skipped the match play event and was not in the US Women’s Open , spending the two-week period working with her coach.
“My coach came down from Canada and we worked on my putting for like 12 days in a row. Hard-core, like putting in the time (needed). We had to change something in my setup, and then just reps and reps and reps. . . . I was really aiming left. I was aiming left quite a bit, and I got away with it on the left to rights, but on the right to lefts I was missing them low.
“It's like I've played golf for 16 years and I just — I knew I was missing them low. I thought I was aiming high enough, but my feet were aimed left. He said it's really hard for you to make a putt the way you're set up. That was kind of nice to fix the setup and then actually roll some good putts on the practice green.”
As for her ball-striking, Sharp has been solid; it is one of her strong points. Today, she managed 14 of 18 Greens in Regulation to go along with her opening round of 15 GIRs. With a renewed sense of confidence on the greens, Sharp was able to convert many of them into birdies, combining 5-birdies with a single bogey on the par-4, 14th hole, posting a -4 under 68. If she can maintain her confidence and not allow herself to start thinking about upcoming holes or focusing too much on what other players are doing, she has a good opportunity to continue climbing the leaderboard over the weekend.
“Sometimes we avoid saying the obvious, thinking we're going to get over it, but I think I've learned over this year, that it's better for me to say that I'm nervous and I'm not feeling great over the shot, so then if Sarah can help me, she can help me. If not, I can get back to the present and just get it out. Instead of thinking over and over, getting it out kind of lets it out and then you can get on with it.”
Celine Boutier will be playing in the final group on Saturday, teeing off at 10:46 a.m. alongside Nelly Korda and Lizette Salas. As for Alena Sharp, she is playing in the penultimate group, teeing off at 10:35 a.m. with American Cydney Clanton and Madelene Sagstrom of Sweden. As for playing in one of the final two groups at a major, Sharp was pleased.
“All the hard work I've been doing is paying off, so I'm looking forward to it. I think this is where everybody wants to be, so just take it in stride and stay present and enjoy it.”