Boutier storms to lead at Annika Invitational

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REUNION, Fla.  –  Céline Boutier of Montrouge, France, surged up the leaderboard Sunday with a 66 at the Annika Invitational and holds a four-stroke lead over Puerto Rico's Maria Torres heading into the final round.

Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Annika Invitational is a 54-hole stroke play event played at Reunion Resort, home of the Annika Academy. The girls-only field is playing the par-72 Independence (Watson) Course at 6,326 yards. The 72-player field features 25 Rolex Junior

All-Americans and players from 17 states and 12 foreign countries.

Boutier began the day in a tie for seventh, but made her move quickly with a birdie on the par-3 third hole. She gave the stroke back after a bogey on the fourth, and that would prove to be the only blemish on her second-round scorecard.

“My putting was really good today,” Boutier said. “I didn't count them, but it just always felt like it went in the hole.”

Boutier is playing in only her second AJGA event, her first being at the Polo Golf Junior Classic in November. She says playing well in the United States is important because she feels the competition is at a higher level.

“I like playing well here because I feel the American girls are stronger,” Boutier said. “The competition plays at a higher level.”

Boutier has proven she belongs in such company, having finished in the top five at her pair of U.S. starts- the Polo Golf Junior Classic and the Junior Orange Bowl International Golf Championship.

She is followed by Torres, who sits at a two-day total of 3-under-par 141. In a tie for third is Doris Chen of Bradenton, Fla., and Kendall Prince of Lake Oswego, Ore., each having recorded a 2-under-par 142. Three players are in a deadlock in fifth at even-par 144: Shannon Aubert of Reunion, Fla., Aurora Kan of Boothwyn, Pa., and first-round leader Marijosse Navarro of San Antonio, Texas.