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Sunday News and Notes

SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota, September 3, 2017 – Celine Boutier (Montrouge, France) built a big lead on the back nine and held off Benyapa Niphatsophon (Bangkok, Thailand) to win the Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge by one-stroke on Sunday. She carded an even-par, 72 in progressively more difficult conditions as the day continued and finished with a four-day total of 11-under, 273 to edge Niphatsophon. Katelyn Dambaugh (North Charleston, S.C.) finished third at 8-under, 276. 

Boutier picks up her second win of the season and locks up a spot on the LPGA Tour for the 2018 season. Boutier’s first-place check of $31,500 moves her to $96,748 earned in 17 starts. Boutier moves to second on the Volvik Race for the Card money list and has now earned the fifth most in a single-season in Tour history. Niphatsophon earned the second place check of $19,887 to get to $102,288, the third player in Tour history to crack $100,000 in single-season earnings. 

“It’s amazing, I definitely wanted to win again this season,” said the 23-year-old Boutier. “It’s so great that I had my chance this week at the biggest tournament of the season. I’m just ecstatic.”

Boutier has made eight starts on the LPGA and now will get to play the Tour full-time for the first time in 2018.

“It is something I’ve been working on for a long time because I’ve always wanted to be on the LPGA,” said Boutier. “I’m just going to use the last couple events on the Symetra Tour to get ready and prepare for next year on the LPGA.”

Boutier has developed a knack for winning big events and she hopes that translates to the LPGA. Her other win came at the Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic, which carries the second largest purse of the season. 

“I guess I’m a little lucky on the big events, timing wise this has been perfect,” said Boutier. “Hopefully next year I can play well at the majors.”

After a 63 on Saturday, Boutier wasn’t as hot on the front nine on Sunday. She started the day with nine pars including a clutch 8-10 footer on hole nine. She made the turn just one-stroke in front of Katelyn Dambaugh. Boutier made a 10-footer for birdie on the par-5 10th and also made birdie on 12 to get to 13-under. At that point, her lead swelled to four shots. 

It remained that way until the 17th hole when Boutier made her first bogey of the day and Niphatsophon made birdie. The lead was two-strokes to the 18th hole and Boutier sprayed her tee shot right. She had an angle to the green, but was playing from the almost the first fairway. She recovered with a nice approach to the left fringe. Niphatsophon missed her approach short and left, but nearly chipped in for birdie. Boutier three-putted for bogey, which was good enough for a one-stroke win.

“The conditions were tough,” said Boutier. “I kind of had a slow start with nine pars on the front so it wasn’t bad, but not amazing either. The wind started to pick up late on the back nine and I made bogeys on the last two, but I feel like overall my game was solid.”

Boutier grew up watching The Evian Championship in France and that spured her interest in playing on the Tour. 

“Every year, I would watch The Evian Championship and get excited about playing the LPGA,” said Boutier. “When I went to college (Duke), I always had the LPGA in mind and college was a great stepping stone.  It was one foot into the U.S. and I started to learn more about the country and the language.”

There is one new member of the Volvik Race for the Card money list top 10. Lindsey Weaver (Bellefontaine, Ohio) finished T8 and moved from 11th to 10th. Dambaugh also made a big move up the money list. She jumped from 29 to 16. Kim Welch (Sacramento, Calif.) finished fourth to move from 24th to 15th. 

GREATLIFE CEO ANNOUNCES THREE-YEAR EXTENSION: During the trophy ceremony on the 18th green, GreatLIFE CEO Tom Walsh announced a three-year extension of the Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge through 2020.

He asked the crowd, which was one of the largest of the season, if they wanted the women back next year. The crowd roared and then Walsh said “alright, we are coming back for three more years” and the crowd roared again in approval. 

The Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge started at Willow Run Golf Course in 2015 and quickly became one of the premier events on the schedule. 

$91,000 DONATION MADE TO HOUSTON RELIEF EFFORTS: GreatLIFE CEO Tom Walsh also announced during the trophy ceremony that the Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge had reached $91,000 and counting for the Hurricane Harvey relief fund started by Symetra Tour player Shannon Fish on Monday.

Fish, a Houston native, tweeted Monday night that she was donating $100 per birdie and $500 per eagle made this week to help aid victims of Hurricane Harvey. Then, the Symetra Tour decided to match her donation and the tournament did the same.

On Tuesday night, Walsh announced at the pairings party that GreatLIFE would match up to $50,000 and that’s when things really took off. 

The GreatLIFE Cares Foundation is going to keep the fund open through September and a final donation will be made in early October. 

“It’s amazing what this community has done in less than a week,” said Fish. “I missed the cut this week, but my heart has never been so full. When I wrote the tweet on Monday, I had no idea that this would turn into something that is truly going to help my city. Thanks to everyone that has helped give hope back to Houston all the way from Sioux Falls. We have made a difference.”

Photos and notes courtesty of LPGA and the Symetra Tour