Classic Golf Thursday: The evolution of Lilia Vu

The IX: Golf Thursday with Addie Parker, July 4, 2024

Author’s note: Happy Fourth of July, everyone! I’m away for the holiday, so enjoy this story on Lilia Vu from April 2023. With the recent news of Vu making the Olympic and Solheim Cup rosters, it feels as relevant as ever. Be safe, be well and see you next Thursday.

Continue reading with a subscription to The IX

Get unlimited access to our exclusive coverage of a varitety of women’s sports, including our premium newsletter by subscribing today!

Join today

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 goalposts. 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 9-ounce ball around a bunch of grass.

Introducing Shelly Bean the Sports Queen!

Did you know that less than 2% of children’s books published each year have a female character who is physically active?

Shelly Bean the Sports Queen series is the perfect inspiration for the children in your life.  Action, bright colors and representation in every story!

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.

But this is a cruel game, and golf wasn’t kind to her during her rookie season. She 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, article from 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 COVID-19 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 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!

See you next Thursday, golf fans.

24/7 women’s soccer coverage with The Equalizer

The IX is partnering with The Equalizer to bring more women’s sports stories to your inbox. Subscribers to The IX receive 50% off their subscription to The Equalizer for 24/7 coverage of women’s soccer.

This week in women’s golf

If you have links you wish to share for Golf Thursday, have sources for golf news, or want to talk about anything at all, you can email me at! Discussion of any kind is always welcome. I mean it: Message me!

LPGA news

Five-time LPGA Tour winner Lilia Vu clinches spot on U.S. Solheim Cup Team

Which players are making moves in rankings and standings?

Friday, July 19, will now be “Lexi Thompson Day”

Atthaya Thitikul and Ruoning Yin win the DOW Championship with the final putt

LET news

With the LPGA on a mini break, the LET is in action in London for another Aramco event.

Field breakdown and teams!

Things to know about the London Aramco Team Series

How to watch

Readers of The IX save 50% on subscriptions to The Next!

The Next: A basketball newsroom brought to you by The IX. 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage, written, edited and photographed by our young, diverse staff, dedicated to breaking news, analysis, historical deep dives and projections about the game we love.

Subscribe to make sure this vital work of creating a pipeline of young, diverse media professionals to write, edit and photograph the great game continues and grows. Your subscription ensures our writers and editors creating 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage like what you’re reading right now get paid to do it!

Epson Tour news

Kathleen Scavo joins the winner’s circle after a six-hole playoff

The grind of being a rookie with Alexis Miestowski

Soo Bin Joo makes move in the Race for the Card standings

Other news

7-woods are all the rage for good reason. Should the 9-wood be next?

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Addie Parker