Former UCLA All-American Lilia Vu won the Women’s British Open to claim her second major title of 2023, taking any potential drama out of the final round by shooting five-under-par 67 for a six-stroke victory Sunday.
The 25-year-old from Fountain Valley also won the Chevron Championship in April, becoming the first female player to win two majors in the same year since Jin Young Ko in 2019, and the first American woman since Juli Inkster in 1999.
Three of the five women's majors have been won by American this year — Allisen Corpuz won the Women's U.S. Open title at Pebble Beach — and that has not happened since 2014.
Vu began the final round tied for the lead with Charley Hull, with 11 players within five shots of them. After 10 holes, Vu led by five as all of her rivals faltered and the American stayed out of trouble at Walton Heath.
Hull holed out from a greenside bunker for eagle at the par-five 11th to trim the lead to three shots, but Vu responded with a tap-in birdie at No. 12 and was never threatened down the stretch.
Vu walked down No. 18 leading by five and was already smiling before her long, snaking birdie putt dropped into the cup. Soon, she was being drenched in Champagne by fellow players.
Vu, a graduate of Fountain Valley High and three-year star at UCLA from 2015-18, finished on 14-under 274 for the tournament.
“It just comes down to not thinking about winning, just playing one shot at a time,” Vu said. “This golf course forces you to do that. It really tests you. That was my only goal. To drive the ball well and give myself chances for birdie.”
Hull, passionately backed at a course near where she grew up, shot 73 and was runner-up for the second time in the last three majors.
“She played unbelievable, really,” Hull said of the champion.
The win completed a stunning breakthrough season for Vu, whose three LPGA Tour titles have come in 2023 — two of them being majors. On Monday, she'll be the world No. 1 for the first time.
Since winning her first LPGA event in Thailand and then in a playoff at the Chevron, she has missed the cut in four of her six stroke-play events, with a highest finish being a tie for 35th. She said her issue was dealing with a change in expectations as a major champion but she handled the pressure impressively Sunday.
“How I felt afterward,” she said, “honestly I was thinking those two wins were a fluke.”
Her only bogey came at the par-five No. 15 when she drove into the heather — the biggest hazard at this heathland course southwest of London — for the only time in the round and then found a bunker with her third shot.
Hull couldn’t keep the pressure on, buckling with bogeys on Nos. 15 and 17 — the latter after a protester walked onto the green and opened a canister filled with purple spray. There was no disruption to play as the protester was escorted away.
What promised to be an exciting final round, given the state of the leaderboard at the end of play Saturday, turned into a procession.
Top-ranked Nelly Korda started five off the leaders, bogeyed the second hole, and wound up shooting 74 to finish 12 strokes back.
Linn Grant, the highly rated Swede, faded with a 76 and was tied with Korda in 11th place.
Former two-time winner Jiyai Shin shot 70 and was alone in third place, one stroke behind Hull.
Megan Schofill wins U.S. Women's Amateur title
Megan Schofill won the U.S. Women’s Amateur at Bel-Air Country Club, beating Latanna Stone 4 and 3 in the 36-hole final.
The 22-year-old Schofill, from Monticello, Florida, is a graduate student entering her fifth season at Auburn University.
“It’s definitely a dream come true, but I’d be lying if I wouldn’t say I’m still in shock,” Schofill said. “I feel like it still hasn’t set in yet. Latanna played a great match. It was really fun to be able to walk the fairways with her. And I felt like we both played really solid golf. I can’t put into words the emotions I’m feeling and it’s just such an honor to be able to say that I won this year.”
The 21-year-old Stone, from Riverview, Florida, also is a graduate student entering her fifth year at LSU.
“It gives me a lot of confidence,“ Stone said. ”I’m so excited to go back and spend time with my teammates and coaches. I think we’re going to have a great year this year.”
Schofill had a 3-up lead after the first 18 holes, winning Nos. 15-17. After Stone won the par-4 24th with a birdie, Schofill took the par-four 25th and par-five 26th with birdies for a four-up advantage.
They halved the next five holes with pars, Stone won the par-five 32nd and the match ended on the par-four 33rd when Stone's five-foot par putt lipped out.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.