American Lilia Vu Storms To Maiden LPGA Title In Thailand

PATTAYA, Thailand (AP) — American Lilia Vu rode a hot putter to claim her maiden LPGA crown with a one-shot victory over home favorite Natthakritta Vongtaveelap at the LPGA Thailand on Sunday.

Trailing the local rookie by six strokes at the start of the day, 25-year-old Vu unleashed eight impressive birdies, including five straight from the eighth hole to end her campaign with an immaculate round of 8-under 64 for a 22-under 266 total at Siam Country Club Old Course.

“Yesterday my dad told me that just one good round and I could win. That’s all I kept thinking about. Basically today I just blacked out and tried to birdie every single hole I could,” said Vu, whose maiden tour victory came after three third-place finishes in 2022.

The UCLA alumni came up short again at the Ladies European Tour in Saudi Arabia last week where she settled for another third place.

“I knew I was going to win, it was just when… and I finally did,” she added.

Vu became the third American to triumph in the event after Lexi Thompson in 2016 and Jessica Korda in 2018.

Playing her first LPGA tournament, Vongtaveelap’s lack of experience took a toll with the 20-year-old golfer enduring a mixed final round featuring seven birdies offset by a double bogey and four bogeys to sign off with a 1-under 71 and and 267 overall.

Her hope for forcing a play-off was dashed after her birdie attempt at the last landed a foot away from the pin.

Thailand will have to wait for a second local winner after former No. 1 Ariya Jutanugarn prevailed in the 2021 edition.

Another Thai golfer, Atthaya Thitikul, was third after a final-round 68 got her to 268.

Maja Stark of Sweden and French Celine Boutier settled at joint fourth on 271, one ahead of top-ranked Lydia Ko, who finished joint-sixth on 272.