WONJU, REPUBLIC OF KOREA| In 2020, Lilia Vu was at her lowest. She had just played some of her worst golf during her rookie season on the LPGA Tour, making just one cut in nine starts. The former No. 1 amateur in the world had no faith in her abilities and seriously considered putting her clubs down for good. Then, her grandpa died.
“Right during COVID, my grandpa passed away and I was on the verge of quitting golf,” Vu said. “I went to an Epson event and once I landed back home, I got a call from my aunt. She was like, ‘Grandpa is at the again and he passed.’ I him before I went to my tournament, and the last thing he ever said to me was ‘Good luck and go try and win.’”
A year later, Vu became a three-time Epson Tour winner and finished first on the Ascensus Race for the Card official money list, putting her back on the LPGA Tour. Vu credits her grandfather for at least one of her three professional victories.
“I know the win I’m most proud of was the one at Twin Bridges Championship because I remember getting super angry on the 8th hole, to the point where I slammed my putter,” Vu said. “As I was walking from eight to nine, I literally said to myself, ‘Grandpa would be so disappointed seeing you acting like this.’ I changed my mindset, instantly birdied then I told myself to just go have fun on the back nine, came out with a win after that.”
Nowadays, Vu is breezing her way through competition and has consistently found herself in contention. Since the AIG Women’s Open and through the second round of the BMW Ladies Championship, Vu is shooting a 68.44 average and clocking a +2.27 strokes gained total. In that same time, Vu rattled off six consecutive top-20 finishes, highlighted by a career-best T3 at the Portland Classic.
Vu’s game is trending in the right direction, and it seems like the 25-year-old’s first LPGA win can’t be far off. She has made quick work of the Oak Valley Country Club and currently sits in solo-fourth at 13-under par on Moving Day at the BMW Ladies Championship.
That’s not to say it’s been a smooth week for Vu. After shooting a 6-under 66 in the second round, Vu carded a topsy-turvy third day. She hit just seven of 14 fairways route to a 3-under 69 with seven birdies and four bogeys.
“I had the lefts today and it was just a constant battle of trying to hit the fairway,” Vu said on Saturday. “But I try not to overcorrect, that will create a two-way miss. I’d rather just play with that until the end and then figure it out later because you never want to overcorrect on the golf course. So, I’m going to go to the range and work that out a little bit before tomorrow.”
Despite the frustrations, Vu never slammed her putter. As she learned at the Twin Bridges championship, a simple change in mindset can be all the difference. Vu has mastered staying in control of her emotions on the range and her golf has prospered because of it.
“My mindset is the next shot could be the best shot you ever hit in your life,” Vu said of her ability to stay patient through adversity on the course. “I just try to stay positive and try not to be too hard on myself and have fun.”
Keeping her mind right is the cornerstone of Vu’s game, especially going into the final day of competition. Her strategy is to focus on what’s in front of her and have fun in the moment, but she can’t erase thoughts of winning completely.
“We all know the end goal, what I want to do is win,” Vu said. “Just not getting too far ahead of myself, letting the golf do its thing and trying my best.”
In short, she’ll be listening to her grandpa: “Go try and win.”