Lilia Vu grabbed her fourth LPGA Tour title of the year on Sunday, firing a four-under-par 66 to win The Annika by three strokes to return to the top of the world rankings.
Vu had five birdies and one bogey at Pelican Golf Club in Belleair, Florida, more than enough to overhaul overnight leader Emily Kristine Pedersen of Denmark.
Pedersen’s bid for a first LPGA Tour title stalled, the Dane finishing with two bogeys and a closing double-bogey that left her tied for fifth.
With the season-ending Tour Championship coming up next week, Vu has joined France’s Celine Boutier as the only players with at least four wins this season.
The 26-year-old Californian notched her first career win in Thailand before adding Major titles at the Chevron Championship and the Women’s Open.
Despite those successes, which will see her replace China’s Yin Ruoning atop the rankings and which have her neck and neck with Boutier in the race for Player of the Year, Vu said winning didn’t seem to be getting any easier.
“It doesn’t,” she said. “I think each win of mine has had its own battle and I think today it was, again, myself. The wheels were kind of falling off a little bit on the back nine, early on the back nine.”
She took heart from her caddie, who told her “we can make a putt from anywhere,” and after her lone bogey of the day at the 12th added birdies at the 15th and 16th that proved decisive.
Vu said the biggest lesson of her breakthrough season had been “to not give up.”
“I know I tend to be really hard on myself,” she said. “As long as I set myself kind of easy, just to be in contention on the weekend, then it kind of just somehow happens.”
Vu had played her way into contention with a 62 on Saturday and Pedersen, who started the day with a three-stroke lead over Vu, Amy Yang and Alison Lee, was unable to find the birdies she needed to fend off her pursuers.
After bogeys at the 8th and 11th, she made a double-bogey six at the last and missed out on qualifying for the Tour Championship.
Lee and Spain’s Azahara Munoz shared second on 16-under 264, both carding three-under par 67s.
South Korea’s Yang was alone in fourth after notching two birdies and two bogeys in her 70 for 15-under 265.
Pedersen was tied on 14-under 266 with Australian Stephanie Kyriacou (67).
American Nelly Korda, who came into the week seeking a third straight victory in the event, finished tied for 25th.
South Africa’s Ashleigh Buhai carded 69 to end on even-par 280 (T61).
© Agence France-Presse