“As France’s top seed, there are more expectations,” Céline Potier explains ahead of the French Open

Goodbye to Aquitaine and Medoc Golf, and hello to Normandy and Deauville. This year, the Lacoste Ladies Open de France is moving to the ultra-chic Côte Fleurie resort. From Thursday to Saturday, 108 participants will try to win the 32nd edition of the event, including defending champion Céline Poitier. The 28-year-old, based in Texas, assumes naming a favorite that she also owes to the indisputable top three rank. A golfer accustomed to the American circuit (LPGA), a two-time Solheim Cup winner with the European national team, is a rarity in France. 20 minutes.

As the defending champion, do you consider yourself the favourite in this version?

I think a little. As the French No. 1, there is also more to be expected. I am also a partner with Lacoste, and this is close to my heart. This is not necessarily a bad thing, you just have to know how to manage the situation.

After your win last year, you spoke of a “special” moment. What would it change for you to play and win in France?

It’s the National Open, I’ve played it three or four times before without ever winning it. Moreover, I mainly play in the United States and only return to France to participate twice a year. When I come back, I want to do well. It is also good to play in front of the French public. These are often good weeks, and the win last year made the week even more special. It was also the first professional tournament I played as an amateur. So there is always a bit of emotion. And when you have already won this tournament, you want to win it again.

For non-professionals, golf is a focus sport. Can we feel the audience’s push?

Yes exactly. When you can have a few followers, it helps, it’s more fun. Having people who appreciate our beautiful shots, our birds, all of it, is very encouraging.

This year, the tournament is being held for the first time in Deauville. Is this item likely to re-shuffle the cards?

Yes, I think it changes a lot of things. Firstly because I have never played there before and secondly because it is a very different place and place than golf in Médoc. I really don’t know what to expect. It’s going to be like a new tournament, with a slightly different format.

You are the best French golfer, and in August you reached 15th in the world, the best rating in history for a tricolor tied with Victor Dubusson. What inspires you?

In general, I don’t care much about ratings. It’s really a result of our performance on the course and I’m focused on that. But inevitably, it is a pleasure to say that we have been a part of the history of French golf.

During the British Open on the Scottish track in Muirfield, 7 August 2022.
During the British Open on the Scottish track in Muirfield, August 7, 2022. – Neil Hanna/AFP

Despite the union’s initiatives, golf retains an elitist image, and we’re talking more about men’s golf than women’s. Do you feel this is changing?

This image is still very present. We demand the same respect as men. However, it is something that is slowly but surely changing. Especially in the United States, when we see the number of tournaments increasing, and tournaments increasing their giveaways. There is less “shift” in people’s mentality, and more respect and appreciation for women’s golf. But it takes time and I don’t know if we will ever achieve full equality between men and women.

Could specific sports inspire you in this direction, such as tennis or soccer in the United States?

Honestly. But there are many other sports that are much worse off than us. Inevitably, we aspire to the best but I know I am very fortunate to be able to make a living out of golf. Not all sports offer this possibility and it is something to keep in mind.

Do you feel inspiring young girls, especially in France?

I hope it is a result of my performance. What creates excitement and attention is having players who win trophies, and they make you want to watch their competitions. The Federal Reserve is doing a lot to help. When Victor Dubisson was at the top and started playing the Ryder Cups, we noticed a surge of enthusiasm about golf in France. That’s what we really need, more players who win in the PGA and LPGA, who will inspire more people.

You yourself, did you have a model when you started?

I started when I was 7 years old. Inevitably, there was already Tiger Woods who was at his best. It was hard to ignore! Among the girls, I’ve seen a lot of Michelle Wei who “presented” too early. It was very inspiring. There’s also Lydia Koe, who’s also pretty early on.

I have lived in the United States for ten years. Would you be the same golfer if you stayed in France?

no. It has made me grow a lot as a person and as a golfer. I knew many playing styles and courses. It is more competitive and you have to improve your game. I had to learn to play on more types of grass and above all to adapt more quickly. It also made me discover another culture that relies more on performance and ambition.

You travel all year round. Have you ever felt tired?

Every week is a different tournament and we start from scratch. It’s hard to get bored. Of course, it’s a tiring lifestyle. We are exhausted at the end of the season. You have to know how to manage yourself throughout the year to be able to perform until the last tournament.

What tournament do you still dream of winning?

Honestly, I would accept any major. But if I had to pick just one, Evian is even more special to me as a French woman.

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