For the second time in her last six starts (and fourth time this LPGA season), Lilia Vu found herself atop the leaderboard after the final putt in a stunning victory at the Annika Driven by Gainbridge.
Vu, 26, started Sunday three shots behind leader Emily Kristine Pedersen but started strong and left the rest of the field behind. She ultimately finished the day at 4-under and finished at 19-under in the tournament.
The three-stroke victory over Allison Lee also puts her back at the top of the Rolex rankings.
Vu recognized that her final round was a bit dramatic, but thanks to some tips from her caddy Cole Pensanti, she was able to withstand the pressure.
“I think each of my wins has had its own struggle, and I think today it was me again… I think the wheels fell off early in the last nine years,” Vu said. “Then my caddy told me, ‘Hey, it doesn’t matter where you hit on the green; You can make a putt from anywhere.’”
With three birdies in six holes to open her round on Sunday, Vu established a tone that stayed with her throughout the day, relentlessly hitting every shot she needed to pull away.
“I think that [pep talk from Pensanti] “It flipped my mindset,” she added. “I got negative and then I just flipped a switch and just thought positive thoughts and then everything took care of itself.”
The victory at Pelican Golf Club is crucial for Vu and now puts her 27 points ahead of Céline Boutier in the race for Rolex Player of the Year. With only one tournament left on the LPGA schedule – next week’s CME Group Tour Championship – Vu’s victory puts her in prime position to secure the award.
Even if Boutier wins the CME Group Tour Championship, Vu can still finish in the top eight and secure the LPGA Player of the Year award.
If she succeeds, Vu would be the first American woman to win the award since 2014, when Stacy Lewis won it.
For now, she’s focused on winning this weekend and leaning on little lessons she can learn from as she heads into the final next week.
“It’s a way of thinking. I think for me it was all a state of mind,” Vu said. “I’m not a technical player. I try to play the course the way it’s presented to me and then just keep going.
“The next shot could be the best shot you ever hit. And that’s a mindset that I think about all the time. I think that helps calm the nerves and do what’s in front of me and be where my feet are.”
With her confidence currently glowing, Vu seems ready for her next challenge.
“I know I tend to be hard on myself,” Vu said. “As long as I somehow make it easy for myself to just be in the race on the weekend, then somehow it will happen.”
https://golf.com/news/lilia-vu-the-annika-victory-closer-lpga-player-of-year/ Lilia Vu is closing in on LPGA Player of the Year honors after her latest win