A fourth win in 2023 has this breakout LPGA star set to become World No. 1
In the final regular-season event on the LPGA's 2023 schedule, players had a lot to gain—or lose. The Annika driven by Gainbridge at Pelican was the last tournament where players could earn points to qualify for the upcoming CME Group Tour Championship. The top 60 on the points list qualify to compete this coming week at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla., for the biggest first prize in women’s golf: $2 million. The top 100 on the list keep their LPGA Tour cards for 2024. As Lilia Vu cruised through the final holes to secure a three-shot victory, some players saw their future’s secured, while others saw dreams crumble.
Lilia Vu, -19 (final-round 66)
Alison Lee, -16 (67)
Azahara Munoz, -16 (67)
Amy Yang, -15 (66)
"I didn't really expect this to happen," Vu said. "I think I just wanted to have a good week going into CME next week and just try to be in contention, and then turned out the way it did."
What It Means
Vu is now the second LPGA player, along with Celine Boutier, to win four times in 2023. Her previous victories, however, include two majors, the Chevron Championship and the AIG Women’s Open. That explains why the 26-year-old Californian was able to jump past Boutier in the Roles Player of the Year rankings, taking a commanding 196-169 point lead. (If she can keep it through the Tour Championship, she'll be the first American POY since Stacy Lewis in 2014 and just the second since 1994.) Vu also is projected to ascend to the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Women's Ranking on Monday.
With a first-place prize money payout of $475,000, Vu also passed $3 million in earnings in 2023, and $4 million for her career. It's an incredible comeback for a player lost her LPGA card early in her pro career and considered quitting golf to go to law school.
How It Happened
Emily Kristine Pedersen led by three over Amy Yang and Vu when the final round started. But both Yang and Pedersen had their worst rounds of the week on Sunday, with Yang shooting even-par 70 and Pedersen struggling to a 74. (It proved particularly costly for Pedersen; had she parred the final hole for a 72, she would have moved into the top 60 on the CME points list, thereby earning a start in the Tour Championship. She made double, and her season ended.)
Vu, however, did not struggle on Sunday. She missed only two greens en route to shooting a four-under 66.
Best Of The Rest
A few players made crucial moves up the CME points list. Patty Tavatanakit, who started the week sitting right on the bubbl in the 60th spot, had a T-15 finish to keep her inside the top 60 and get a chance to win the $2 million first prize at the CME Group Tour Championship. Similarly, Australia's Stephanie Kyriacou’s T-5 at The Annika got her into the top 60.
Azahara Munoz started the week No. 100 on the CME points list. It was a precarious spot: Good play by just one player ranked below her could push her outside that number and cost her full status in 2024. Though, she had a few more starts to improve her position due to her recent return to the tour from maternity leave, she won’t need them: This T-2 finish locks up her card for next season.
Wei-Ling Hsu’s T-12 boosted her into the top 100, earning her 2024 LPGA Tour card. And Lydia Ko went from No. 101 on the CME points list to No. 100, though she her status in 2024 was already secure thanks to her wins in 2022.