Brilliant Boutier basks in Sanya win

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Boutier, who held a share of the lead or led throughout the 54-hole tournament, closed with a final-round 68 to finish on 12-under 204.
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Celine Boutier poses with the trophy after winning the Sanya Ladies Open on south China's Hainan Island on November 19, 2017. The French rookie shot a final-round 68 to win by four strokes.

A string of four consecutive birdies proved the difference for Celine Boutier on Sunday as the French rookie pro captured the Sanya Ladies Open in commanding fashion with a four-stroke victory on south China's Hainan Island.

Boutier, who held a share of the lead or led throughout the 54-hole tournament, closed with a final-round 68 to finish on 12-under 204 for the event co-sanctioned by the China LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and Asian Ladies Golf Tour.

South Korea’s Lee Solar (69) was a distant second, while Icelander Valdis Thora Jonsdottir (72) was third, five shots off the pace at Yalong Bay Golf Club in Sanya.

Lin Xiyu (68), Liu Ruixin (72) and Pan Yanhong (73) were the top Chinese in the 125-player field at 10 shots off the winning mark.

Boutier started the day with a one-shot lead and gave the field a chance when she dropped consecutive shots starting at the fourth hole to fall to 6-under. She then rebounded for a birdie four at the 515-yard ninth and never looked back.

With four consecutive birdies from the 11th hole and another at the 16th hole, the 24-year-old Montrouge native cruised to her third victory of the year.

“I played pretty well all season long, I just feel my game is there. I feel very good to be in the last group and learn a lot. I am very happy to win this week,” said Boutier who has earned her card for the US LPGA Tour next season after finishing third on the Symetra Tour money list this year.

Lee, who was tied for the lead with Boutier at 7-under through 11 holes, posted her fourth top-10 finish of the China LPGA Tour season in six starts with a final round that featured five birdies and two bogeys.

Lin, the 2014 Sanya Ladies Open champion, put together her best round of the week in closing with seven birdies and three bogeys. She said her strong performance had come at the right time as it made her confident that she could win back her playing card for next season on the US LPGA Tour. Next week the Guangzhou native will return to Florida for the final stage of the qualifying school at the end of the month.

Koepka stormed to victory

In Miyazaki, Japan, US Open champion Brooks Koepka stormed to victory at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix Tournament on Sunday, finishing with an eagle flourish to retain the title by nine shots after a final-round 4-under-par 67, Reuters reported.

Koepka finished on 20-under 264 for the US$1.8-million tournament at Phoenix Country Club with compatriot Xander Schauffele (71), Thai Prayad Marksaeng (67) and South Korean Lee Sang-hee (72) well beaten in a share of second.

Hideki Matsuyama looked like he might be launching a Sunday charge when he fired a hole-in-one at the par-3 third hole but a double-bogey just after the turn effectively ended his chances of a second Dunlop Phoenix title after his 2014 win.

Japan's world No. 4 revived his round with three birdies on the back nine but another bogey at the 17th saw him drop out of a share of second and he finished fifth on 10-under after a 69.

Koepka's maiden major triumph in June came on the back of a late surge at Erin Hills but there was no need for anything spectacular on the back nine on Sunday after he started the day with a four-stroke lead and made a sizzling start.

Birdies on his first two holes and another at the par-5 seventh took the 27-year-old well clear of the field at the turn, and bogeys at the 10th and 17th were offset by a shot picked up at the 13th and his eagle-3 on the 18th.

The former European Tour regular had made retaining a title one of his goals for the year and he can now head off to Tiger Woods's Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas with that mission accomplished.

Matsuyama, who finished second behind Koepka at the US Open, will be the defending champion at the November 30-December 3 tournament in Albany, where Woods will make his comeback after nine months away from competitive golf.


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