Rolex Rankings No.6 Céline Boutier says that she faces a “big challenge this week” as she attempts to defend her Major title at the Amundi Evian Championship.

“It’s a little bit bittersweet. Obviously, it was such an amazing memory for me, and coming back is always bringing those memories back, so it’s always good feelings, but it’s also a little bit sad it’s already been a year and I have to give the trophy back, so that’s the sad part,” said the 30-year-old from Montrouge, a suburb in the south of Paris.

“I’m very excited to be here. The course is looking very challenging this year: maybe a little bit more than last year. I think it’s going to be a tough defence of the title, but I’m really excited to get started.”

Speaking at a press conference with Boutier, Franck Riboud and Jacques Bungert, President and Vice-President of the Amundi Evian Championship respectively, expressed their emotions at witnessing Boutier become the first French winner, in 2023.

Bungert said: “Franck and I were sharing that emotion. We didn’t think that way because we never thought about ourselves as being a French tournament. We are in France, but we’re an international tournament and always felt that way.

“Every year the journalists were asking what about a French player winning here. We were always saying the same thing: Whatever player is a great champion. But to have one – and she’s 30 as well as we are – and Celine winning here at home a major, was really a great emotion.”

Riboud added: “It’s not only a French winner: it’s Celine. French, okay, it’s nice, but it’s Celine. Why I’m saying that is perhaps you even don’t know, but I knew Celine when she was a kid because my son who’s younger than her was in the same club when he was, I don’t know, six or eight years old.

Addressing Boutier, he said: “So I saw you with your father when it was raining and this and the quality of the ground was not so good. She was always there. For me, Celine is just the result of an incredible strength and work ethic with the family. And you said it even yourself, that you are very good player, but there are other players with more talent than you, which mean that when you work, you succeed, which is not always true in golf.

“The second thing is we invited Celine a lot of times to play in the tournament. We can say that was not really successful many times. Suddenly, she won. That is the reason why, for me, that was a very emotional moment.”

Boutier continued: “It definitely changed my career. I feel like at that point I had won maybe twice or three time on tour, nothing really big. Obviously, I was wanting to win a major for quite some time, but the fact that this happened here was just beyond anything I could have expected.

“Just watching the tournament growing up obviously you imagine yourself winning it, you know how great it would be. Honestly, it just exceeded any expectations I had. Like they described, it was just so powerful just having everybody just cheering for you and being so happy for you. Being able to share that with so many people was something I didn’t expect. When I looked back at the video that they played on the 18th green yesterday, I just had to hold back my tears. Still so emotional.”

The Evian celebrates its 30th anniversary this year and Riboud and Bungert looked back at the journey since its beginnings as the Evian Masters on the LET in 1994, before the LPGA co-sanctioned the tournament in 2000.

Riboud said that there was no grand early vision, but that they tried to improve the tournament every year. Today, the three pillars are, firstly, impacting women’s sport through increasing prize money, secondly, impacting the younger generation through the “Evian Galaxy” including the Kids Cup, Junior Cup and Evian Showcase and thirdly, protecting the course’s ecology. All this while keeping the family ambience that the tournament has been built upon since the beginning.