Travelers Championship

TPC River Highlands

AIG Women's Open

As contender in Women's Open, major winner Lilia Vu battles the weight of her own expectations

August 11, 2023

Lilia Vu plays her second shot on the 18th hole during the second round of of the AIG Women's Open.

David Cannon

TADWORTH, England — The history of golf is littered with major champions who have, sooner or later, disappeared back into near anonymity. Equally, claiming one of the biggest events in the game can just as easily be a springboard to further success at the very highest level and, in time, the attainment of true greatness. It can go either way.

Still, both pathways take time to develop. So, four months is way too soon to come to any kind of definitive conclusion about Lilia Vu, winner earlier this year of the first Chevron Championship to be played outside her home state of California. But what it is safe to say is that the 25-year-old UCLA Bruin’s form has dipped substantially between April and now.

Since that major breakthrough in Houston, Vu has played in six stroke-play LPGA events. In four of those—including the Women’s PGA Championship and the U.S. Women’s Open—she has failed to make the halfway cut, and her best finish is a T-35 at last week’s Women’s Scottish Open.

Things are continuing to look up though. Halfway through the fifth and final major of 2023, the AIG Women’s Open at Walton Heath, Vu is four under par after a promising second round of 68 that included five birdies and only a single dropped shot. Much work remains, however.

Despite her solid play so far, Vu is six shots behind the runaway leader, Ally Ewing.

“Post-Chevron Championship, I've been struggling a little bit,” admitted Vu, who was the world’s No. 1-ranked amateur during her time at UCLA. “So, to finally, hopefully, be in contention by the end of today, it just feels really rewarding. I feel like I've had a hard couple of months just with everything and dealing with my expectations of myself. I’ve been too hard on myself. I think every time I get in my own way, it's when I'm too focused on winning.

“I need to just focus on playing my game and being in contention,” she continued. “Then I'm in a good position to try and win instead of getting really upset if I mess up on a hole. I did that last week. I got upset when I was playing well, and then just couldn't hold it together because I thought it was over. I'm just trying to be in a better mindset this week.”

Both the signs and her statistics indicate something of an upward trend. Vu missed only four fairways and three greens during her second round over the demanding 6,881-yard composite (16 holes on the Old; two on the New) Walton Heath layout. Finding the putting surfaces so consistently meant that 30 putts were struck over the 18 holes, a number that only confirms the solidity of her overall performance tee-to-green.

“The course is playing really long,” claimed Vu. “It's firm, fast, and I'm just trying to play one shot at a time. But I'm excited. Hopefully we can make a lot of birdies this weekend.”

Given Ewing’s play so far, Vu and everyone else in the chasing pack will almost certainly need to.