It was a dominant performance from Lilia Vu on Sunday at the AIG Women’s Open at Walton Heath Golf Club as the 25-year-old American fired a 5-under 67 to win by a whopping six shots and capture her third LPGA Tour title and second major championship of the 2023 season.
Vu began the day tied for the lead with Englishwoman Charley Hull at 9-under, one ahead of Angel Yin and Hyo Joo Kim who were tied third at 8-under through 54 holes. The UCLA alum struck first, birdieing the par-4 2nd hole to move to 10-under and one ahead, an advantage that was extended to three when Hull made back-to-back bogeys on holes 3 and 4. Vu recorded six consecutive pars from holes 3 to 8 and had her lead cut to two when Hyo Joo Kim went birdie-birdie on Nos. 8 and 9 to get to 8-under. But the California native made birdies on holes 9 and 10 to move to 12-under and hold a five-shot lead with eight holes to play.
Not to be left out of the conversation, Hull holed out from the bunker for eagle on the par-5 11th hole to get back to 9-under and sit three back of Vu. But The Chevron Championship winner once again moved to four ahead with a birdie on No. 12 to get to 13-under, and after hitting her tee shot in the heather on the par-4 15th hole, Vu got out of dodge with a bogey, retaining her four-shot lead after Hull also made bogey. Vu regained her footing with a birdie on 16, and when Hull bogeyed No. 17 to drop back to 8-under, the two-time 2023 winner came to the 18th tee with a five-shot lead.
Finding the fairway off the tee and finding the green with her approach, Vu had a midrange putt for birdie to become a three-time LPGA Tour winner. Vu began to crack a smile as the ball trundled toward the hole, and when it finally tumbled over the edge of the cup, the English fans roared for their latest champion, Lilia Vu, who is now the first American to win two majors in one season since Juli Inkster last did so in 1999.
“I think I really kept to my one shot at a time. I don't really remember one single shot in particular but just playing my game,” Vu said. “I didn't look too hard at the leaderboard. I wasn't really sure where I was at. I kind of knew that I was doing pretty well and I think I glanced at it on 16 green just to see was I at but I was going to play my game the whole time.
“It feels surreal to have this kind of Sunday and to come out with a win, given the past couple months, I've been struggling with my game and just feeling good, I'm really happy.”
With Nelly Korda’s T11 finish, Vu is projected to move to No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings for the first time in her LPGA Tour career. She became a Rolex First-Time Winner in February at the Honda LPGA Thailand and won again just four starts later at The Chevron Championship, defeating Angel Yin in a playoff to earn her first major title and second win of the season.
It’s been a bit of a struggle for the 25-year-old since she captured the first major of the year in Houston, Texas – Vu missed four cuts in five starts after winning The Chevron Championship – but it’s those challenges that will make this victory at the AIG Women’s Open taste that much sweeter. It will also remind Vu that despite feeling like her two wins this past spring were “flukes”, she is indeed one of the LPGA Tour’s most impressive talents and that she belongs at the top of the women’s game, having rightfully put herself there with her Sunday performance at Walton Heath.
“Honestly I just wanted to win golf tournaments out here on the LPGA,” said Vu, who will become the fourth American to ever reach the top spot in the Rolex Rankings, alongside Nelly Korda, Stacy Lewis and Cristie Kerr. “It's just been a crazy year for me, just doing pretty well at the beginning of the season and just hit a lull in the middle, just struggling. I thought at the U.S. Open after I played so bad, I didn't know if I could ever win again. I think I came into this week with a good mindset. My team and I talked about just trying to be in contention on the weekend, and that's all I could do.
“Being the best in the world, that's just crazy to me, just thinking about the struggle I had this year and just to come out with that, it's just incredible.”