Celine Boutier leads at Australian Ladies Classic

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French golfer Celine Boutier will take a five-shot lead into the final round of the Australian Ladies Classic after a masterful performance in challenging conditions at Coffs Harbour.

Starting Saturday two strokes behind Britain’s Holly Clyburn, the 24-year-old played a flawless front nine in 32 and added two more birdies on the back nine to jump clear.

Despite Clyburn and Australian Hannah Green being pre-tournament favourites, Boutier simply racked up the birdies.

“Celine played fantastic out there. She did not miss anything. I didn’t expect her to go out there and shoot 67 at all in these conditions. It was her day,” said Clyburn, who started the day at eight-under-par but slipped back to equal second with a two-over 74.

“I’m in touching distance – you don’t know what tomorrow will bring. It’s been a long day.”

Boutier had the air of a player who’d been there before.

“I was just playing my game. I didn’t pay attention to the leaderboard. I didn’t even know I was that far ahead,” she said.

“My strategy has been working very well. And I think the girls can shoot very low tomorrow, so I don’t think I should be too conservative,” she said.

Green continued her birdie-bogey problems, the West Australian carding five birdies and five bogeys, later admitting “I’m personally finding it hard to find the pace” of the greens.

“The bogeys have come because I’ve been three-putting, which is quite unusual. I’m usually more consistent, but I’m glad I’m making this many birdies. Hopefully, the scorecard will be a little cleaner tomorrow.”

The 22-year-old is still confident she can win the Ladies European Tour-sanctioned event.

“If you want to win, you have to believe you can,” she said.

Green is the highest-placed Australian in seventh but compatriot Rebecca Artis is also contending. The Queenslander posted an even-par round to remain at three under and in a tie for eighth.

“I had it going early but got a bit sloppy in the middle of the round. I made a few bad mistakes that stopped my momentum,” the 29-year-old said.

“I’m not too far back … I can win from there. I’ve won from there before. I won in Scotland from six back, and I won in Sweden from six back.”

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