The evolution of Lilia Vu — Best moments from Chevron — Must-click women’s golf links
The IX: Golf Thursday with Addie Parker, Apr. 27, 2023
Happy Golf Thursday! When athletes have breakout years — Scottie Scheffler in 2022, or Jordan Spieth circa 2015 — the reaction that we fans typically have is, “Where did this person come from? They just popped up!” But when we say these things, it erases decades of practice, long days of preparation, and a whole lot of blood, sweat, and tears. We must constantly remind ourselves that athletes work their entire lives toward one specific goal and they never stop moving the goalpost. That’s why we are fans. We admire those who are brave enough to put their livelihood on the line for the sake of hitting a little nine-ounce ball around a bunch of grass.
For 31 weeks, Lilia Vu was the No. 1-ranked amateur in the world. She won eight tournaments during her days at UCLA, making her the winningest player in UCLA history. She represented the U.S. in the Curtis Cup and a handful of other events. In 2018, she was named WGCA Player of the Year and after a remarkably successful college career, she earned her tour card during Q-School and became a rookie in 2019.
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But this is a cruel game, and golf wasn’t kind to her during her rookie season. She had missed all but one cut and earned a whopping $3,830. This obviously wasn’t enough for her to maintain her card, so she had to claw her way back through on the Epson Tour.
“I didn’t have any friends. I didn’t know anyone. I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform well. I wasn’t in a good state of mind to be playing competitive golf. But everything happens for a reason, right? I hit rock bottom to learn how to play out here again.Lilia Vu, LPGA.com article May 2022
Vu won three times on the Epson Tour in 2021, earning her spot back on the LPGA for the 2022 season. Earlier this year in Thailand, she became a Rolex first-time winner, and just a couple of months later she’s a major champion. But if you ask her — she didn’t do it by herself.
“I couldn’t believe that that happened. That we won a major,” Vu said after a tearful final putt, in what was another dramatic playoff finish for the LPGA. For Vu, her team is everything, and she credits it all to her grandfather. Her grandfather would go away for a month at a time — no one knew where he’d go or why. One day in 1982, he grabbed his family and took them to the boat he had been building to get his family out of a war-strung Vietnam. The boat was meant to carry 54 people at most — he took the entire village of over 80 people.
In 2020, at the height of the pandemic, Vu’s grandfather was hospitalized, and shortly after he passed. His last words to her were simple: “Just play your best.” It transformed her golf game. Vu said she was playing every shot like it was life or death. What her family went through in Vietnam was life or death, she is here as a consequence of her family’s brave decision to flee. Once she released herself from her own torment, Vu was able to do exactly what her grandfather had told her to do.
I think we’re far from seeing her at her best and I think she will continue to dominate throughout the season. She’s a member of the International Crown team (which is next week!) and just maybe leaping toward a spot on the Solheim Cup team for September.
It’s hard to not root for her, between her origin story, how well-liked she is across the tour, and her conversations with the media — Lilia Vu is the current “it-girl” of the LPGA, and she deserves to embrace every moment of it! Vu and other stars are teeing it up in LA this week, head to links for the deets on that.
See you next Thursday, golf fans.
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This week in women’s golf
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More from Chevron!
My first story for Golf Digest!!!! How to replicate the best looks from the LPGA’s first major for your own on-course look
Epson Tour News
Five at The IX: Top moments from Chevron
The Championship Dinner
The Championship Dinner, a decade-long tradition is the moment of time during a major week, when past and present are in harmony. I’d love to be a fly on the wall in that dining room!
Christina Kim’s shot from the water
20-year vet, Christina Kim has always wowed us with her bold fashion statements, but her all-guts no-glory playing style is just as entertaining. We love CK!
Nelly’s long eagle putt on the 72nd hole
The putter just wasn’t behaving all week for Korda, but she drained this long eagle putt on the final hole on Sunday for a well-earned roar from the crowd.
In Gee’s Ace at 17
I mean — no words necessary!
Vu’s Leap and the caddy belly flop
The champ starts a new jumping tradition; too bad her caddy stole the spotlight with a 10 out of 10 belly flop.
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