Pinehurst Notebook

Duke’s Celine Boutier endures early exit from US Women’s Open

acarter@newsobserver.comJune 20, 2014 

— It has been a memorable couple of months for Celine Boutier, the Duke sophomore, but her experience at the U.S. Women’s Open – her first – didn’t exactly create the kind of memories she might have expected.

Boutier last month helped lead the Blue Devils to the national championship, and individually she finished second. Her time in the Women’s Open, though, didn’t last as long as she would have liked.

After finishing her first round 7-over par, Boutier didn’t fare much better Friday at Pinehurst No. 2. She finished her two rounds at 13-over par and missed the cut by four shots.

Boutier, 20, said the past couple of days taught her a thing or two. That was the positive, she said.

“It’s always a great way to learn, because I think it’s probably one of the toughest courses I’ve ever played,” Boutier said. “So it’s hard to handle the frustration (at) first, because obviously I’m not going to shoot 5-under on these types of courses.

“But it’s always great to play and I know what I have to work on in the future for the next U.S. Opens, hopefully.”

Boutier on Thursday played in front of Duke coach Dan Brooks and assistant coach Jeanne Cho. Her caddie was Darick McRae, the grandson of longtime Pinehurst caddie Willie McRae, who has worked at Pinehurst for 71 years.

“I wanted a local caddie, because I wanted someone who knew the course really well,” Boutier said.

Duke alums Mina Harigae (5-over) and Brittany Lang (8-over) made the cut.

Memorable loops for Bush

Bryan Bush would have been working in Colorado this week if a friend who knew Lucy Li’s family hadn’t asked him a while back about caddying for Li, the 11-year-old who became the youngest player ever to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open.

“This is an experience you can’t pass up,” said Bush, who also works as a local caddie at Pinehurst.

Li finished 16-over after a pair of 78s and didn’t make the cut. Still, the past couple of days were memorable for her. For Bush, too.

He said he could see himself years from now, thinking back to when he knew Li when she was an up-and-coming preteen.

“That’s the beauty of it,” Bush said. “Her parents are phenomenal in the fact that they do not pressure her, and she does it her way. … She will definitely, if she wants to, be around in the days to come and years to come.”

Not exactly amateur hour for Lee

After two rounds, the leader board is filled with recognizable names. Michelle Wie, Lexi Thompson, Stacy Lewis and Paula Creamer enter the weekend in contention.

Minjee Lee, an 18-year-old amateur from Perth, Australia, is in the thick of the tournament, too.

Through two rounds, Lee is even par – four shots behind Wie and one behind Thompson – and the low amateur by two shots. Lee is in a tie with three others, all tied for third place, at even par.

Lee sounded nonchalant Friday about about being so close to the top.

“It’s my first (Open) and I’m in contention,” she said. “So I can’t ask for anything more, really.”

This is Lee’s first U.S. Women’s Open, but she’s accustomed to high-level success. She’s ranked No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and has placed among the top 25 in two LPGA Tour events this season. One of Lee’s greatest influences has been fellow Australian Karrie Webb, who has won 41 times on the LPGA Tour.

Lee grew up looking up to Webb, but Webb, who’s 2-over, is now looking up to Lee. At least on the leader board.

“I grew up looking at her as my idol, so it’s pretty cool to be up there with her,” Lee said.

Creamer contending without best game

Creamer said she “definitely did not” have her A game Friday, but it didn’t hurt her tremendously. She’ll enter the weekend with a chance at winning the Women’s Open for the second time.

“I give (my caddie) Colin (Cann) and myself a big pat on our backs because we grinded,” Creamer said.

After finishing with an even-par 70 Thursday, Creamer on Friday bogeyed No. 14 and No. 18 and finished her round 2-over par. She enters the weekend six shots behind Wie.

Creamer is the most recent American to win the Women’s Open. She won it in 2010 and, since then, three consecutive players from South Korea have won it. South Koreans have won five of the past six Women’s Opens.

Chip shots

•  The defending champ made the cut – but just barely. Inbee Park, the South Korean who won the U.S. Women’s Open last year and in 2008, rebounded from her first-round 76 with a 71 on Friday. She’s 7-over for the tournament, and she slid into the weekend with the cut line at 9-over.

•  The threat of rain loomed throughout the U.S. Open last week and it was more of the same Thursday during the first round of the U.S. Women’s Open. Finally the skies opened and rain poured Friday – though only briefly. A small storm passed through Pinehurst, bringing a heavy downpour that began at around 3:30 and lasted about 10 minutes.

•  The threesome of Pernilla Lindberg, Katherine Kirk and Giulia Sergas took seriously a slow-play warning they received from a USGA official on the eighth tee. After Sergas hit her drive, the three of them jogged down the fairway after their balls. Their caddies did as well, not looking too comfortable doing so.

•  There it was, all ready to go for Li after her round on Friday: a little stool for the 11-year-old to step on so she could reach the microphone and be seen by the cameras during her post-round press conference. Li, though, was such a popular story this week that her caddie, Bush, had several interview requests. When he reached the podium he gently moved the stool back and stepped to the microphone.

Quotable

“She was kind of doing her little mixology, getting the levels right, so it’s not too sweet but it’s not too bland. She just looked like an 11-year-old. But with a professional golf swing.”

- Bryan Bush, Lucy Li’s caddie, describing when Li mixed some powdered Gatorade on the 12th tee on Friday.

Number to know

4.56 That was the average score on the par-4 eighth hole, which played at 429 yards Friday. There were 59 bogeys and 18 double bogeys on No. 8, against just nine birdies.

Carter: 919-829-8944; Twitter: @_andrewcarter

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