Lilia Vu got so nervous teeing it up alongside Stacy Lewis at the CP Women’s Open that she blocked her opening tee shot 40 yards. Vu pulled herself together, but the nerves only reiterated how badly she wants it. Lewis is the 2023 U.S. Solheim Cup captain, and Vu wanted to make a strong impression.
“I love team events,” said Vu, who teamed up with Jennifer Kupcho and Kristen Gillman in 2018 to win the World Amateur Team Championship, Curtis Cup and Palmer Cup.
After Lewis lost her own match, she went out to watch Vu play in the Bank of Hope LPGA Match Play event last May in Vegas, where Vu advanced to the semifinals. Later in the summer, Lewis invited Vu to a Solheim Cup dinner during the KPMG Women’s PGA.
“I don’t know that she’s going to need a pick, to be honest,” said Lewis after playing a practice round with Vu last month at the Dana Open in Ohio.
Lewis, who calls Vu “super solid” and “sneaky long,” wouldn’t be surprised to see Vu play her way onto the 2023 team that will take on Europe next September in Spain. She’s now on a short list of potential rookies that includes Andrea Lee, Allisen Corpuz and Lucy Li.
USA players, from left, Lilia Vu, team captain Stacey Collins, Jennifer Kupcho and Kristen Gillman with the Espirito Santo Trophy after the 2018 World Amateur Team Golf Championships at Carton House in Maynooth, Co Kildare. (Photo By Matt Browne/Sportsfile via Getty Images)
Vu, 24, currently sits in a share of eighth on the Solheim Cup points list with fellow UCLA player Alison Lee. The top seven qualify for the team of 12 off the points list. Points will be doubled in 2023. Two more come off the Rolex Rankings, and Lewis has three captain’s picks.
“She was the No. 1-ranked amateur in the world for two years,” said Lewis. “Not really a surprise in my book.”
It wasn’t all that long ago that Vu thought about quitting the game. During her first year on the LPGA in 2019, she made one cut in nine starts and earned $3,830. The winningest player in UCLA history, with eight titles, then thought about going to law school.
Vu’s mom, however, convinced her to stay the course.
“Every shot was life or death,” explained Vu.
In 2021, she turned a corner on the Epson Tour, winning three times to clinch her LPGA card.
Lilia Vu of the United States and Andrea Lee of the United States share a laugh at the second tee during the Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play Hosted by Shadow Creek at Shadow Creek Golf Course on May 29, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
This year, Vu has eight top-20 finishes in 17 starts. She’s 37th on the money list with $573,580 and 32nd in CME points. She even has two aces on the season.
“I think I love golf more every day, honestly,” she said.
When asked what she attributed that to, Vu said, “Just thinking about how people would really kill to be in this position and get the privilege to play golf … and travel.”
Vu, of Fountain Valley, California, will compete in the next four domestic events on the LPGA, beginning this week at the AmazingCre Portland Classic and winding up close to home at the LPGA Mediheal Championship at the Saticoy Club in Somis, California.
Vu has played out of Shady Canyon Golf Club in Irvine, California, since she turned professional along with fellow touring pros So Yeon Ryu, Patrick Cantlay and Brendan Steele.
“I’ve played with Steele before,” said Vu. “He shot 60.”
Lilia Vu of the United States hits out of a sand trap on the first hole during the Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play Hosted by Shadow Creek at Shadow Creek Golf Course on May 29, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Vu counts several members of Shady Canyon as mentors. They have their own success stories in areas outside of golf and share bits of wisdom, encouragement and book recommendations.
As she tries to wait patiently for that first LPGA victory, Vu counts her mental game as her biggest strength.
“I think I’m very resilient,” she said.
A trait captain Lewis knows the value of better than most.
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Story originally appeared on GolfWeek