American Lilia Vu sealed her second Major title of the year with a dominant six-shot victory over Charley Hull at the Women’s Open on Sunday.
The 25-year-old posted a final-round 67 to finish on 14 under par, and is now set to replace Nelly Korda as the new world No 1.
“It sounds almost unreal to hear my name announced as champion,” said Vu, breaking down in tears after her triumph. “I’ve had a tough couple of months and I just wanted to be in contention this week.”
Vu won her first LPGA Tour tournament in Thailand in February and then claimed her first Major in April at the Chevron Championship.
But she missed the cut at the next two Majors – the LPGA Championship and the US Women’s Open.
“I thought my two wins were just a fluke, I lost confidence,” she said as the tears began to flow. “But I’ve got a great family and team around me and they gave me belief.”
Vu appeared very calm as she plotted her way to the trophy, but she continued: “I wasn’t calm inside. Even on the last putt [she holed from 25 feet for birdie at the 18th] my caddie just told me how to hit it.”
Vu was also grateful to the British fans. Playing alongside Hull, who started the day tied with the eventual winner but had to settle for second place, she was always going to come second best in the cheer stakes.
“But the crowd was great,” said Vu. “I love playing with Charley and I understood that most people wanted her to win. But there were cheers for me too and it was very fair.”
Hull, who also finished second in the US Women’s Open, admitted she felt a bit deflated after a closing 73. “But I’m going to work even harder to win a Major.
“I came from behind at the US Open and here I was tied for the lead going into the final round. I now can’t wait for next year.”
Even a demonstration by climate activists Just Stop Oil at the short 17th – powder was thrown onto the green – could not spoil Vu’s march to victory.
She made the perfect start with a 10-foot birdie putt at the 1st.
By the time she had added more birdies at the 4th and 10th her lead had been extended to a comfortable five shots.
Hull, who dropped shots at 3 and 4, raised hopes of mounting a comeback when she holed out of a bunker for an eagle three at the 11th. But Vu immediately hit back with an unanswered tap-in birdie at the 12th.
The Californian made her only bogey after driving into heather at the 15th, but Hull also dropped a shot and it was all but over.
Vu has not had an easy road to the top.
She turned professional in 2019 but made only one cut in nine starts on her first season on the LPGA Tour. She then stepped back to the Epson Tour and won three events in 2021 to regain her LPGA card.
After landing a first LPGA title in Thailand at the start of this year, she followed it up with her Major breakthrough at the Chevron.
On that occasion she won via a playoff, but major No 2 was more straightforward.
Korea’s Shin Ji-yai, the two-time former champion, closed with a 70 for third place on seven under.
England’s Charlotte Heath won the Smyth Salver for the leading amateur. She closed with a 76 for seven over par.
The three South Africans in the field – defending champion Ashleigh Buhai, Paulo Reto and Lee-Ann Pace – all missed the weekend cut.
© Agence France-Presse