Boutier beats Hall in playoff to win LPGA Drive on Championship

On Sunday, Frenchwoman Celine Boutier defeated American Hallie Hepler in a sudden-death playoff to claim the LPGA Drive on Championship title at the Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club in Florida.

Boutier and Hepler were tied at 17-under-par after 72 holes of regulation play, setting up a thrilling playoff. On the first playoff hole, Boutier made a birdie putt to beat Hepler and capture her first LPGA Tour victory of the 2021 season.

The 25-year-old Boutier, who won the 2019 Ladies European Tour Order of Merit, had a bogey-free round on Sunday and finished with a six-under-par 66. Hepler, playing in her first LPGA Tour event of the season, birdied the 18th hole in regulation to force the playoff.

In the third round of the tournament, Boutier set a new course record with a 62. She also finished tied for fourth in the season-opening Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio.

Boutier had entered the final round of the LPGA Drive on Championship tied for the lead with American Megan Khang, who finished tied for third with a 16-under-par total.

“I'm pretty speechless right now,” Boutier said after her victory. “I'm so happy and so proud of myself to have been able to fight back after a double-bogey on the 12th hole. I'm also proud to have been able to win in a playoff. It's an amazing feeling to have achieved something like this.”

Boutier's win moves her up to fifth in the world rankings and gives her a huge boost ahead of the ANA Inspiration, the first major of the year, which begins on April 1.