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Tied for the lead at the start of the final round, Vu rolled to a six-shot win at the Walton Heath Golf Course, just outside London. Her closing 67 gave her a 72-hole total of 14-under par 274, giving the 25-year old Vu her third victory and second major championship of the year.
She won LPGA Thailand in February and the Chevron Championship in April.
Charlie Hull, playing in front of hometown fans, started the final round tied with Vu atop the leaderboard but could never generate any traction as her bid for her third LPGA win and her first major title came up short. Her 73 put her alone in second place at 8-under par 280 thanks to a long birdie putt at the 72nd hole.
Two-time Women’s Open champion Jiyai Shin was at 281 after a closing 70, while Amy Yang and Hyo Joo Kim were at 282. Vu’s victory on Sunday makes her the first player in four years to win two major championships in the same year; Jin-young Ko won what was then the ANA Inspiration and the Evian Championship in 2019.
Vu is also expected to ascend to the number-one position in the Rolex Women’s Rankings when they are released this week. That same year Ko was celebrating her major championship ‘double,’ Vu was contemplating giving up the game after losing her LPGA Tour card following a disappointing rookie season that saw her relegated to the Symetra Tour.
Wise words from her mother and from her grandfather, who passed away in 2020, got her refocused.
“My rookie year was really hard for me. I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform really well and I would just get down on myself when I didn't. And then a lot of things happened really, I went back down to Symetra Tour and I couldn't even contend there. I was almost dead last at every event. I wanted to put the clubs away and maybe do something else, but my mom, always told me I was good enough to compete out here and be the best. She's really my rock and the reason why I'm here. Also, with my grandpa passing away at the beginning of COVID, I remember I was on my way to a tournament. I saw him in the hospital before I left, and he was okay. It was a little scary, and he told me just to go out there and ‘play my best’ before my tournament. Meanwhile, he's sick and he's worried about me and my golf game. By the time I came back, he had passed and those were his last words to me. I always think about that every single day. Even when I'm struggling out there on the course, I know he's out there with me just letting me know that it's going on okay.”
Once Vu grabbed the lead with a birdie at the par-4 second hole she never let go. Hull bogeyed the third and fourth to fall three shots behind. She had an abundance of birdie chances but never threatened to erase the deficit.
Vu’s lead was five shots with eight holes to go before Hull chipped in for eagle at the par-5 11th.That was as close as she would come.
“[Vu] played great, Hull said. “Yeah, it's just annoying because this is my fourth second-place finish of the year, and my second second-place finish in a major. But I really feel like next year will be my time for me just because I'm going to really focus on working on that over this winter. I feel like I want to start tomorrow with my coach.”
For her part, Vu stayed focused on the task at hand.
“I didn’t look too hard at the leaderboard,” she said. “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 but I knew I was going to play my game the whole time anyways.”
Vu said one of the keys to her success this week was ‘not getting in her own way’.
“I think I'm a bit of a perfectionist. So, when I mess up on a hole, I get really upset because I think that my chance of winning could go away, just because of that bad shot or that bad hole. But that's not the case. Everybody makes mistakes out there. It's just how you handle it because the next shot could be the greatest shot you've ever hit.”
Words: Rick Woelfel
Main Photo: Lilia Vu via Getty Images by Richard Heatcote