WALTON-ON-THE-HILL, England (AP) — Lilia Vu was already smiling when her long, snaking birdie putt dropped into the cup on the 18th green, confirming her—not that it was ever in doubt—as the Women’s British Open champion and a two-time major winner.
The 25-year-old Californian has plenty to smile about.
A first LPGA Tour win. Two major championships. An imminent ranking of No. 1 in the world.
How’s that for a breakthrough season?
“It sounds almost unreal,” Vu said.
With accurate driving and relentless reliability on the greens, Vu took any potential drama out of the final round of the year`s last major by staying largely out of trouble at Walton Heath and shooting 5-under 67 for a six-stroke victory on Sunday.
She began the day tied for the lead with popular home hope Charley Hull, with 11 players within five shots of them. By the time she teed off on No. 11, Vu led by five after seeing all of her rivals—including top-ranked Nelly Korda—falter one by one.
Hull, roared on by the locals on a course located just 30 minutes from where she grew up, holed out from a greenside bunker for eagle at the par-5 11th to trim the lead to three shots.
Vu responded with an approach to 3 feet for birdie at No. 12 and was never threatened down the stretch.
She walked down No. 18 leading by five shots and, after rolling in a sixth birdie of her round, she was drenched in champagne by fellow players.
Vu won an LPGA event in Thailand in February, then the Chevron Championship in a playoff two months later. Since then, she has missed the cut in four of her six stroke-play events, saying she struggled to deal with a change in expectations as a major champion.
“How I felt afterward,” she said, “honestly I was thinking those two wins were a fluke.”
Now, she is 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.
From being outside the top 100 midway through 2022, her first year back on the LPGA Tour, she will become Monday the fourth American to top the women’s ranking since it was introduced in 2006.