Chevron Championship: Lilia Vu channels memory of late Grandfather to clinch first major title


Lilia Vu won the Chevron Championship on Sunday, overtaking American compatriot Angel Yin in a playoff to seal the first major of her career at The Woodlands, Texas.

Wu was four shots behind co-leader Yin in the final round, but rallied with five birdies – including two from close range – to tie the world No. 172 at 10-under and force a playoff. In the first replay of the 18th hole, the 25-year-old holed a curved birdie putt to win when Yin’s second shot went into the water.

After a while, it was Wu’s turn to find water. Jumping into Poppy’s Pond has been a long-standing tradition for The Champions at Mission Hills in California, which hosted the major from its inception until its relocation to Carlton Woods in 2023.

Wu wasted no time renewing the ritual, diving into the lake next to the 18th green to toast her second LPGA Tour victory and the winner’s check for $765,000, the biggest of her career. It took a remarkable victory for the world No. 12 after early struggles as a pro nearly dropped him from the sport.

“Everything happens for a reason,” Wu told reporters.

“All the bad things, everything I’ve ever struggled with, family-wise, internally, I consider myself the biggest obstacle, I’ve had a pretty tough, not easy, past two days.

“I was definitely my own enemy, and I don’t know how I pulled it off. I’m really happy and proud of Cole.” [caddie] And so do I.

Wu (R) celebrates her victory in the water.

Despite a decorated amateur career, Wu has had a torrid start to life on the LPGA Tour, making the cut just once in her first nine starts since turning professional in early 2019.

She would not play another LPGA event until 2022, by which point she had lost a creative figure in her life. Vu’s grandfather, who fled his native Vietnam with his mother, died in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amidst bubbling frustration during a wet and windy final round, it was the memory of his grandfather that kept Wu grounded.

Wu makes a putt on the 18th green.

“I was in such a bad place with my golf game. Everything was life or death,” Wu said. “I saw everyone I competed with being successful, and I just compared myself all the time.

“But I know now that everyone’s journey is different, and everything happens for a reason… Even today, I was getting really nervous on the course, and I just had to remind myself, like ‘Grandpa. He is with you, and if you were getting upset like this and you did not do your job properly, then be disappointed.

“I think he would say all my struggles were worth it,” she said.

After winning, Wu is sprayed with champagne.

Runner-up Yin was upbeat despite being upset and missing out on his first career major. The 24-year-old, the runner-up at the US Open in 2019, looked set for victory before back-to-back birdies on the 16th and 17th holes opened the door for Wu.

A pressing birdie on the final hole to force a playoff prompted a strong response, but Yin’s fightback was ultimately drowned by her subsequent shot in the water.

“I really didn’t feel very nervous this week, even in this stretch,” Yin told reporters.

“My caddy was telling me to calm down, but other than that, I really really wasn’t feeling much. I’m really mellow. So it’s a lack of emotion, and I’m not crying.

She said, “I am really happy with who I am, where I am and what I am doing now.

Yin drives from the third tee during the final round.

World No. 2 Nelly Korda finished one stroke short of reaching the play-off in third place, with Thailand’s Athaya Thitikul topping the five-player group, tied for fourth at eight-under par.

Meanwhile, Jennifer Kupcho mounted a serious attempt to defend her title, making the cut and finishing tied for 108th at six over par.

The women’s golf major calendar continues on June 6 with the US Open in Pebble Beach, California.