Lilia Vu Wins The Annika, Regains No. 1 Ranking and Closes in on LPGA Player of the Year
BELLEAIR, Fla. – Lilia Vu showcased her exceptional skills on Sunday as she claimed victory at The Annika, securing her fourth win of the year. This triumph not only allowed the American golfer to regain the No. 1 ranking but also brought her closer to clinching the prestigious LPGA player of the year title.
Starting the final round at Pelican Golf Club three shots behind Emily Kristine Pedersen, Vu wasted no time in seizing momentum. With three birdies in the first six holes, she quickly pulled away from the competition. Her precise approach shots set up back-to-back birdies, further solidifying her lead.
Before the tournament, Vu trailed another four-time winner, Celine Boutier, by a mere three points in the race for the points-based LPGA player of the year. However, Boutier’s disappointing performance, which resulted in her missing the cut, allowed Vu to surge ahead. With a 27-point lead, Vu now heads into the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship as the frontrunner.
Unfortunately, it was a devastating end for Pedersen, who had been vying for her first LPGA Tour title. Despite being well-positioned to move up from No. 80 to the top 60 in the Race to CME Globe, Pedersen’s final hole mishap, hitting into the water and making a double bogey, knocked her out of contention.
Another player affected by Pedersen’s misfortune was Madelene Sagstrom, who initially seemed to fall out of the top 60. However, Stephanie Kyriacou’s strong finish tied her for fifth place, and Pedersen’s double bogey allowed Sagstrom to advance.
Although Boutier missed the cut and Vu emerged victorious, Boutier still finished at the top of the standings. Nevertheless, the upcoming CME Group Tour Championship presents an opportunity for all 60 players to claim the coveted $2 million prize.
“You may as well go shoot the lights out,” remarked Kyriacou, emphasizing the competitive nature of the event.
Vu’s exceptional performance throughout the year makes her a strong contender for other accolades as well. With two major wins at the Chevron Championship and the Women’s British Open, the former UCLA star is poised to become the first American to win the LPGA’s top player award since Stacy Lewis in 2014.
Finishing at an impressive 19-under 261, Vu secured a three-shot victory over Alison Lee and Azahara Munoz of Spain, both of whom closed with a 67.
Munoz, who entered the tournament at No. 100 in the Race to CME Globe, had hoped to secure her card by making it into the top 80. Despite the added pressure, she nearly made it to the season finale, relieved to avoid the stress of potentially losing her card.
“I’ve never been so close to losing my card, I guess. Never been in that situation. I don’t want to be in it again. Trying to win a tournament is stressful, but trying to keep your card is very, very stressful,” expressed Munoz.
Patty Tavatanakit also faced some tense moments during the final round. Although she had a strong performance on Saturday with a score of 62, the last round proved to be a struggle. However, a late birdie provided her with enough of a cushion to secure her position in the top 60, despite a bogey on the final hole.
With her recent victory, Lilia Vu has firmly established herself as a force to be reckoned with in the world of golf. As the season culminates with the CME Group Tour Championship, all eyes will be on Vu as she aims to claim the LPGA player of the year title and further solidify her status as the top player in women’s golf.