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 on Sunday.
The 25-year-old from Fountain Valley, Calif., 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’s 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 2015-2018, finished on 14-under 274 for the tournament.
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.
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 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.
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.
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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.