Maguire closing in on top 10 as Boutier takes control at the Evian

Mark McGowan

Leona Maguire (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

Leona Maguire fired a best-of-the-week four-under 67 on moving day at the Amundi Evian Championship, but home hero Celine Boutier is the one to catch as she opened up a three-stroke lead.

A two-over 73 in round two left the Ballyconnell star eight strokes off the pace after 36 holes, with a single and a double bogey in the closing three holes proving particularly costly, but refusing to throw in the towel, she came roaring from the traps in round three with birdies at the first, fifth, sixth and ninth holes to make the turn at -4 for the day.

Four consecutive pars marked her start to the back side before a birdie-two at the difficult 14th looked set to reignite her hopes of putting some pressure on the leaders, and with two par-5s yet to come, a round in the low sixties was still a realistic opportunity.


Unfortunately, it wouldn’t materialise as she’d par her way to the last where a disappointing bogey-six would take some of the gloss off what had been an otherwise excellent round.

“Yeah, it was really nice,” she said afterwards, “got off to a great start and it’s always nice to birdie the first, then birdied five and six – six was playing tough with the back pin there today – and got a nice little bonus chip-in on nine. Yeah, overall I’m pretty pleased. I think the course was set up a little easier today than yesterday so you had to be a bit more aggressive and try to take your chances.

“I didn’t quite play the par-5s as I’d like, but overall, anytime you shoot under par around here it’s pretty good.”

Maguire sits tied for 14th, one shot outside the top-10 and eight off the leading score of Boutier, but she closed out the 2021 staging with a course-record equalling 10-under 61 so knows that if she could come close to repeating those heroics then there’s every chance that she could steal in for victory.

“It all depends on how the golf course is set up,” she said, “if it’s set up like today you’ve to go low, if it’s set up like yesterday then you have to be more conservative, so we just have to see what we get tomorrow.”

While Maguire is still in with a chance, albeit a slender one, Stephanie Meadow is out of the running after a second-consecutive round of 76 saw her fall to +8 and an under-par round to move up several positions will be the height of her ambitions in the final round.

But Celine Boutier is the one they all have to catch after the Frenchwoman followed up her rounds of 66 and 69 with a Saturday 67 to post -11 and open up a three-stroke lead over Nasa Hataoka with defending champion Brooke Henderson and Minjee Lee a shot further adrift at -7.

“I was kind of half joking,” Boutier said when asked about the mind games she’d referenced after the second round to make it feel like any other event, “but I feel like the fact that my family is here and we’re staying in a house 15, 20 minutes away kind of really helps me take my mind off golf and the tournament. I feel like that’s been helpful for me to really kind of relax and not think about golf.”

As the premier French player on the women’s scene, large and vocal galleries followed her throughout the day but she maintained her focus and was virtually flawless throughout with a bogey at the par-4 12th her only dropped shot of the day.

“Yeah, it’s been amazing,” she said. “It’s been really amazing to be able to see and hear the support from the fans. I feel like it’s been very enjoyable for me. I am just trying to, yeah, take it one shot at a time.”


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