Celine Boutier, Credit pic

With a second-round 64, Celine Boutier claims her spot as solo leader at the HSBC Women’s World Championship headed into the weekend. No stranger to the top of the leaderboard, this is her first time leading or co-leading in the 2024 LPGA Tour season. Previously, the Frenchwoman has led or co-led on three different occasions after the second round of a tournament, and seven times after the third round. Amongst those times, the six-time LPGA Tour winner has never finished outside of the top-5.

Boutier came into Friday sitting at one-over par after a tricky first round that included three bogeys on her back nine. Starting on the back nine for the second round, she started steady, making three pars in the first three holes. Boutier dropped into red numbers for the tournament as she made back-to-back birdies on holes 13 and 14. She made one more birdie on the par-5 16th to make the turn at three-under par.

She continued to go on a tear, making four birdies in the first five holes of the front nine. Her streak of three birdies from Nos. 3 to 5, as well as a birdie on the par-5 8th, contributed to a front nine score of 31 to turn in an eight-under round on the second day of play. She was one of four players to take advantage of the par 5s on Friday, birdieing every one to gain an advantage across the field.

“It was definitely less windy, and I was able to get a good start and two birdies on the back, which is my front nine. That gave me a lot of confidence to keep going and I was able to take advantage of a lot of birdie putts, especially on four, and just kept going. I feel like I played solid all round long and was able to get a low score.” said Boutier, who sits one shot clear of Japanese player Ayaka Furue headed into the third round. “I’m just trying to take it one round at a time and hopefully post another solid round tomorrow and put myself in a better position — and I hope no playoff.”

Furue sits in sole second place after shooting a 67 in the second round. After four holes, she was two-over par, making two bogeys on the par-4 3rd and the par-3 4th. She followed the back-to-back bogeys up with a birdie on the first par 5, and later picked up back-to-back birdies on holes 8 and 9 to make the turn with a 35. Furue’s back nine consisted of a birdie streak of four holes from Nos. 12 to 15 that shot her up the leaderboard.

With no bogeys across two days, Madelene Sagstrom lands two shots behind Boutier and one shot behind Furue at Sentosa Golf Club. The Swede made four birdies on holes 7, 9, 10 and 16 to turn in a second-round 68. Following her first top-10 finish of the year at Honda LPGA Thailand and her first since the 2023 Buick LPGA Shanghai, Sagstrom gained some comfortability early in the year.

“It was a very good place for me to be. I wasn’t ready to pull it out yet but I feel comfortable now. I feel like those two rounds showed to myself that my game is in a good place,” said Sagstrom. “I also figured out what I needed to work on mentally last weekend to give myself chances and not hit the brake button and keep pushing. I feel like that’s easy for me to do. I can get a little timid and scared and hold on for dear life rather than keep pushing. The girls are so good. You can’t stop.”

Five players including 2017 LPGA Tour Rookie Peiyun Chien, six-time LPGA Tour winner Nasa Hataoka, Aussie Stephanie Kyriacou, 2021 champion Hyo Joo Kim and first-round leader Sarah Schmelzel, sit in a tie for fourth place at four-under par after Friday. Players return to Sentosa Golf Club tomorrow, with play starting at 7:25 a.m. ET.

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