Before the French Open, Céline Boutier explains, “There is more expectation as France No. 1”

Farewell to Aquitaine and the Médoc golf course, and hello to Normandy and Deauville. The Lacoste Ladies Open de France is moving to the chic Côte Fleurie resort this year. From Thursday to Saturday, 108 participants, including reigning champion Céline Boutier, will try to win the 32nd edition of the event. Texas-based 28-year-old Francilienne takes on her favorite tag, which she owes her undisputed #1 tricolor rating. Golfer accustomed to the American circuit (LPGA), which is quite rare in France, won the Solheim Cup twice with the European team, 20 minutes.

As the reigning champion, do you consider yourself the favorite of this number?

I think a little. As the French number 1, there is also a little more expectation. I’m also Lacoste’s partner, so it’s close to my heart. This is not necessarily a bad thing, you just need to know how to manage the situation.

You mentioned a “special” moment after your victory last year. What does it mean for you to play and win in France?

This National Open, I’ve played three or four times before but failed to win. Also, I mostly play in the United States and only return to France for a competition twice a year. When I come back, I want to do good. It’s also nice to play in front of the French public. These are generally good weeks, and winning last year made this week even more special. It was also the first professional tournament I played as an amateur. So there is always some emotion. And when you’ve already won this tournament, you want to win it again.

For non-experts, golf is a concentration sport. Can we feel pressured by the public?

Yes, totally. It helps, it’s more fun when you manage to follow a few people. It’s very encouraging to have people who appreciate our beautiful shots, our birds.

This year the tournament is played for the first time in Deauville. Is this an element that is likely to reshuffle the cards?

Yes, I think it changed a lot. First, because I’ve never played there, and second, because it’s a completely different place and setting than golf in Médoc. I really don’t know what to expect. It will be like a new tournament with a slightly different formula.

You are the best French golfer and in August you reached the 15th place in the world, the best ranking in history for a Tricolore tied to Victor Dubuisson. what inspires you?

In general, I don’t pay much attention to rankings. It’s really more a result of our performances on the field and that’s what I’m focusing on. But inevitably, it’s gratifying to say that we’re part of French golf history.

During the English Open at Muirfield Scottish ground on 7 August 2022.
During the British Open at Muirfield Scottish ground on 7 August 2022. – Neil Hanna / AFP

Despite the federation’s attempts, golf maintains an elitist image and we talk more about men’s golf than women’s. Do you feel this changing?

This image remains very current. We want us to have the same respect as men. That said, it’s something that is slowly but surely changing. Especially in the United States, when we see the number of tournaments increase and tournaments increase their donations. There’s a bit of a “change” in people’s mentality, more respect and appreciation for women’s golf. But this takes time and I don’t know if we will one day achieve perfect equality between men and women.

Can certain sports in the United States, such as tennis or soccer, inspire you in this direction?

Altogether. But there are many other sports that are much worse off than us. We inevitably desire better, but I know I am very lucky to be able to make money from golf. Not all sports offer this possibility and it is something to consider.

Do you think you inspire young girls, especially in France?

I hope it will be a result of my performances. What creates excitement and interest is having players who win tournaments and make you want to watch their competitions. The Fed is doing a lot to help. When Victor Dubuisson was at his peak and started playing Ryder Cups, we saw a growing interest in golf in France. That’s what we really need, more players winning in the PGA and LPGA to inspire more people.

Did you have a model yourself when you started?

I started at the age of 7. Inevitably there was Tiger Woods, who was already in top shape. It was hard to ignore him! Among the girls, I watched a lot of Michelle Wie, who “performed” very early. It was quite inspiring. There’s also the very precocious Lydia Ko.

You have lived in the United States for ten years. Would you be the same golfer if you stayed in France?

Number. It has improved me a lot as a person and as a golfer. I knew many more game styles, courses. It’s much more competitive and you need to improve your game. I had to learn to play on more turf and above all to adapt much faster. It also allowed me to discover another culture that is much more based on performance and ambition.

You travel throughout the year. Do you ever feel tired?

Every week is a different tournament and we start from scratch. It’s hard to get bored. Of course, a tiring lifestyle. We are tired at the end of the season. In order to give the best until the last tournament, you must know how to manage yourself throughout the year.

Which tournament do you still dream of winning?

To be honest, I would take any Major. But if I had to pick just one, Evian is a little more special to me as a French woman.

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