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Walton Heath 2023

Lilia Vu's redemption


From almost quitting golf to becoming a multiple major winner

Lilia Vu poses with the AIG Women

If any sporting hopeful is seeking inspiration in their quest for greatness, they need look no further than Lilia Vu.

After a disappointing rookie year on the LPGA Tour in 2019, the Californian was forced to have a frank discussion with her mother as to whether she had a future in the game.

She is now a two-time major winner.

Vu produced a magnificent final round at Walton Heath to fend off home favourite Charley Hull and claim the 2023 AIG Women’s Open by six shots.

The 25-year-old went into the Sunday tied at the top with Hull on nine-under – but she never looked in danger once she pulled two clear at the 3rd.

The victory on the Surrey track came just four months after her major breakthrough, at the Chevron Championship – and just four years after she contemplated quitting golf altogether.

“I just put a lot of pressure on myself to perform really well and I would just get down on myself when I didn't,” Vu said of her 2019 woes.

“I went back down to the 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, she 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.”

Lilia Vu poses with the AIG Women's Open trophy at Walton Heath

Vu’s resurgence has been truly remarkable. From making just one cut in nine events in her maiden tour season, she regrouped, rekindled her love for golf and is now the projected world number one.

Her talent was obvious, and by edging out Angel Yin in a play-off at the Chevron she proved that she could marry this natural ability with a mental resilience often cited as a key factor in any successful sportsperson’s arsenal.

Such is her desire for consistency, Vu has been disappointed with her form in 2023, having missed the cut in the three majors that she didn’t win; the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, the US Women’s Open and the Amundi Evian Championship.

Champion Lilia Vu kisses the AIG Women's Open trophy

However, a lack of consistency is not something that could be levelled at Vu this week, having finished the Championship with back-to-back 67s, which followed on from a 68 on Friday. And nobody had fewer putts on Sunday than Vu’s tally of 25.

Her form on the greens was just one of the many factors behind her landmark victory; she was sixth in greens in regulation across the week and ninth in fairways hit. Her all-round game was exquisite.

She also came within a few feet of nailing an incredible ace on the par-4 10th on Saturday. It would have been another feather in an increasingly brimming cap.

Vu became the first American woman to win two majors in the same year since Juli Inkster in 1999.

There was an outpouring of emotion when, with the trophy in her grasp, she addressed the grandstands, calling them “the best crowd I've ever played [in front of] in my life.”

While Walton Heath will forever hold a special place in her heart, Vu now has 12 months to enjoy life as the AIG Women’s Open Champion, before defending her crown at St Andrews next year.

It means Vu will have the chance to go full circle. From almost walking away from the game completely, to defending a major title. At the home of golf.