Lilia Vu beat fellow American Angel Yin in a play-off to secure her first major title at The Chevron Championship.
Vu started the final day four shots back but moved up the leaderboard with five birdies – including two on 17 and 18 for a closing 68 – and a 10-under total.
Yin had victory in her grasp, but bogeyed 16 and 17 before ensuring a play-off with a birdie at the last. But her second play-off shot hit the water and Vu holed a long birdie putt for the win at Carlton Woods in Texas.
“Everything happens for a reason, all the bad things,” said Vu, 25, who had considered quitting the sport a few years ago. “The past two days, I was very angry. I didn’t feel like myself. I just felt like I was getting angry over every single little thing, and that’s usually not how I roll.”
Vu said she thought of her grandfather, who left his native Vietnam with his wife and children and died early on during the Covid-19 pandemic, to keep herself going.
“Today, I was getting really upset on the course, and I just had to remind myself, ‘Grandpa is with you and he’d be really disappointed if you were getting upset like this and that you didn’t get your act together’,” she added.
Winners of this event when it was held at Mission Hills had a tradition of jumping into a pond in front of the 18th green since, and Vu continued that tradition by leaping off a small dock into murky water of the pond in front of the final green at Carlton Woods.
“Yesterday we saw a snake in the pond, so I was kind of thinking about that today,” Vu said. “But I think the emotions were high, so I said we’ve just got to jump into that pond.”
While Vu was all smiles, there was bitter disappointment for Yin, who started the final day at the top of the leaderboard with compatriot Allisen Corpuz, who finished on seven-under after a 74, and had the outright lead with five holes to play. “I just wasn’t hitting it very well. Honestly, I held it together, and then 16 and 17 were down to bad club decisions,” said Yin. “I didn’t hit a good shot in the play-off hole, and that kind of summed up my day.”
Others to throw away winning chances included Atthaya Thitikul, who made four straight birdies from 7-10 and was at 10-under standing in the 18th fairway when she hit her third shot into the water, leading to double bogey.
World no.2 Nelly Korda holed an eagle putt on 18 to finish third, one shot back, after missing the tournament a year ago following surgery for a blood clot in her arm. Her performance will see her move back to the top of the world rankings.
Georgia Hall was England’s highest placed finisher, taking a share of 12th with Spain’s Carlota Cigada after closing with a 68 to finish on five under. Ireland’s Leona Maguire finished tied 23th.