SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Sixth-ranked Duke had a great start to the South Bend Regional Thursday at the 6,301-yard, par 72 Warren Golf Course junior Celine Boutier carded a season-best five-under 67 to take the individual lead, while the Blue Devils opened with an even-par 288 to take the team lead. 

Boutier registered a season-high six birdies on her way to shooting a 67 and holds a three-stroke lead against Marissa Dodd of Wake Forest, Becca Horner of Troy and Isabelle Johansson of Kentucky with a 70. 

“My whole game was really good today,” Boutier said. “I was hitting it pretty close to the holes and my putting was pretty good to; so I was making a lot of putts. I think that made the difference.”

The round of 67 for Boutier marks the second consecutive year she has opened NCAA regional play with a 67 as she turned in the 5-under score last year Boutier opened her day with birdies on No. 1 and No. 5 as she drained seven-foot and 18-foot putts to move to 2-under. 

“The course played hard today because the greens are really tricky and the pin positions were on the edges so it was tough to get it close to the holes,” commented Boutier.  “It was challenging and the wind was picking up on the back nine.”

Boutier hit 14 greens, 10 fairways and tied a season low with 27 putts on the day. 

As a team, Duke carded an even-par, 288, and leads by five strokes over fellow ACC member, Wake Forest (293). Arizona (294), UC Davis (295), Kent State (296), Oklahoma State (296), Tulane (298), Harvard (298), Purdue (299) and Pepperdine (299) rounded out the top 10. Following 54 holes, the top six teams will advance to the NCAA Championship. 

“We played well,” head coach Dan Brooks said. “I have been spending a lot of time on the course with Lisa [Maguire] because we are trying to get her over the hump on a change, so I didn’t see a lot of the golf out there today. Everybody seemed to be playing well, but just felt like they missed some putts. There is a lot of poa mixed with bent [grass] on these greens so you can miss some putts based on that.  We had a good day.”

The lead by Duke marks the first time since 2008 that the Blue Devils have opened a NCAA regional in first place. The Blue Devils have claimed eight NCAA regional titles in school history. 

“I think it is really nice to have this lead after the first day,” said Boutier.  “We have been playing well and we know we can do much better.  Some of our players haven’t played their best yet so it is a good feeling to have.”

The Blue Devils collected 12 birdies on the day to rank third for the round behind Wake Forest (16) and Tulane (14).