Act like a Founder — Celine Boutier winning press conference — Must-click women’s golf links
The IX: Golf Thursday with Sarah Kellam, October 7, 2021
Act like a founder. It’s something that former LPGA Tour commissioner Mike Whan said constantly during his time as head of the organization, hoping to drill the concept into his staff’s and his players’ heads and hearts as not merely a catchphrase, but a way of life. And it is for most of the pros in the women’s game, something that they are constantly reminded of every time they tee it up, especially at events like this week’s Cognizant Founders Cup.
If you talk to anyone about the event, the sentiment is the same. Every single person involved is so grateful to the original 13 founders for their starting of the Tour and though only two remain with us — Marlene Vossler Hagge and Shirley Spork — their impact is still felt 71 years later by all those who benefit from the existence of the LPGA.
At 94 years old, Shirley serves as the face of the original Founders and can be found on-site at most of the Tour’s major events. She was a hoot to watch dance on the first tee at the Solheim Cup last month and so many players speak of her kindness and approachability when they talk about the legend.
Spork’s presence helps to blend the line between past and present, serving as a reminder of the empowering thirteen who risked it all to create something that would change the face of women’s golf for the better. But she also is a palpable example of that motto, of what exactly it means to “act like a Founder”, of owning the product that is the LPGA Tour.
We talk a lot about the importance of major championships in the women’s game and their being the biggest and best events, the ones that are the most significant to the players and the fans. Yes, those are absolutely vital and those are the tournaments that qualify a player’s career.
But I don’t want us to forget these weeks on the LPGA Tour, the weeks where celebrating history is at the forefront of everyone’s minds, where acting like a Founder becomes personified. Women’s golf has so many heroes — Lopezs and Sporks and Smiths and Wrights — and they all deserved to be commemorated. So let’s recognize them this week, remember the sacrifices made and risks taken, and mark the Founders Cup as one of those golf events that will forever be special.
This week in women’s golf
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Five at The IX: Celine Boutier Wins Shoprite LGPA Classic
I know on the ride over you said kind of seems surreal. You weren’t expecting to win, but you won. Take us through the day, the performance, and what it was like in those tense moments waiting for final groups to finish up.
It was such a surreal day. I just feel like this morning I just knew I was couple shots back and I knew the course was scorable, so I knew I had to shoot a low score to even have a chance. And then after 18 I just knew I had left everything out on the course, but couple of groups were left out there and I was expecting to go in the playoff when I saw the last group coming into 18. I was already in my mind going into the playoff and having to prepare for that. And then just the fact that neither Jin Young or Inbee birdied 18 really left me, I don’t know, like kind of stunned. I’m still a little bit surprised about it. But it’s honestly been a great tournament. I played really solid from start to finish. Super happy with the way it ended obviously.
You matched your career low for 18 holes today I believe with your final round performance. You also matched a couple names in French lore that some LPGA fans might remember, Patricia Meunier-Lebouc and Anne Marie Palli. You tied them with your second win on tour to join them in a tie for first. So your next win you’ll have quite a mountain to yourself. Take us through what it means representing your country week in and week out. We just had the Solheim Cup, and to be paired with some historic names from French golf like that?
It’s really hard to describe and to even realize what it means, but I fortunately know both of them Patricia and Anne Marie, and they’re the nicest people. And Patricia has won a major, so I feel like I’m not even at that level yet. But it’s just so great to be able to tie them. We’re not that many French players out here on tour, so it’s just always amazing and super proud to be representing my country every week, and hopefully a lot more players from France are coming.
How does this win compare to your first?
It’s so different. It’s hard to compare them, but the first one was very unexpected. I guess this one was too, in a different way. The first one was unexpected and so early into my career. I think it was my second year on tour. I think it’s been almost two years or two years and a half since my first win. You know, I know how hard it is to win. It just makes it so special. I’ve been trying really hard to get my second one. It’s hard to describe. It’s hard to compare them, but they are both very special.
Do you ever have to fight the temptation to try to play somebody’s game other than yours when your fellow competitors maybe are longer hitters than you are?
I have in the past for sure. I’ve learned from it. I feel like you have to focus on your own game. Everyone’s game is different. It’s hard not to compare yourself on the other players, especially when they’re better than you, like better ranked. I feel like I’ve gained some distance in the past year, year and a half, so that’s definitely helped me a little bit. Definitely actually, because I was able to reach all the par-5s this week, which is normally not happening that often for me. My gain in distance has definitely helped me, but I also know I’m not going to be a long hitter like Maria Fassi or Patty or Bianca. So I just know that. And any gain I can get of course is welcome, but I also know that’s not the strength of my game. So just know where you stand and where your strength are is key I think.
You won your last professional golf start at the Lacoste Ladies Open in France on the LET a few weeks ago. What confidence did that give you, and how did you adjust to coming back overseas to get ready for the LPGA schedule?
It gave me a lot of confidence. That tournament meant a lot to me because it’s the first professional event that I played as an amateur when they gave me an invite. Then any tournament I can play at home with my sponsor Lacoste, my family was there, my whole family was there, which is extremely rare, so it meant a lot for me to give myself a chance to win. And to be able to win on home soil is never easy, so I was definitely over the moon with that win. I feel like what you learn on Tour each week is so different. Sometimes it’s not easy to just get a new start every week. Especially when you win. You want to just enjoy it for a little bit more. But I had to play in Arkansas right after, so I just try not to think about it too much, but tried to move on. And every week is a different week, so you never know. But it definitely gave me a lot of confidence. But the fact that it’s LPGA so it’s not LET, it just helped me kind of get a fresh start. It’s different players, different fields, and stuff like that. So it was a little bit easier for me to just focus on the week ahead.