Behind the AIG Womens Open Leaderboard | LPGA | Association of Women’s Golf Professionals

Set against the unique purple heather of Walton Heath, the AIG Women’s Open proved to be a fitting end to an exciting 2023 major league season on the LPGA Tour.

Lilia Vu cemented her place as a superstar in the game, becoming the first American since Julie Inkster in 1999 to win multiple majors in the same season. Her victory propelled her to No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Ranking, making her just the fourth American player to climb to the top spot since its inception nearly 20 years ago.

Lilia turns it on

While Vu’s ball-striking was terrific (she ranked second in the field in strokes gained on the green), it was what propelled her from contender to champion over the weekend. Vu earned 7.66 strokes on the greens alone in the final two rounds, including a best of 5.51 on Sunday. Lilia made 11 aces in the final round, three more than any other player.

This strong placement was vital in helping her keep the bogeys off the mark as she was ranked first for the week in both collision and bower avoidance. When Vu got the stroke this season, she was literally impossible to beat. Three times in 2023, Vu has ranked in the top 10 in a tournament field in stroke play. In all three of these tournaments, he won. In just the last round of her three wins this season, she won more than 14.5 shots on the field with her putter.

The heath at Walton Heath made for a beautiful setting, sure, but things turned ugly quickly when players found themselves trying to escape it. Vu managed to avoid punishing misses for the most part, hitting 75% of her games for the week, about 10% more than the field average. Vu beat the field by more than a full stroke off the tee in rounds two, three and four, and ranked fourth in the field in that statistic for the championship.

Vu is usually well above the average player on longer approach shots to the green: This season on approaches from 175 to 225 yards, her average proximity is about 2.5 feet better than the LPGA Tour average. But that part of her game proved extremely important in her victory last week. Vu gained just over three strokes on the field with her approach for the championship, with 86% of that total coming on approaches from 175 to 225 yards.

After six shots going into the weekend, Vu equaled the longest 36-hole comeback to win this championship since it became important in 2001. The great Se Ri Pak was also six back in two rounds when she won at Sunningdale in 2001. After starting the 2023 season without a win on the LPGA Tour, Vu picked up a pair of major championship wins this season. She is the first player to go into an LPGA season without a win – then win multiple majors that year – since Pak did it in 1998.

When Vu does so for the United States in Spain next month, she will be the first player since Annika Sorenstam in 2005 to win multiple majors and compete in the Solheim Cup in the same year, joining Betsy King (1990 ) as the only American woman to do so. Vu’s six-shot victory is the most by an American woman in a major since Cristie Kerr won the 2010 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship by twelve strokes.

Another runner-up for Hull

Statistically speaking, Charley Hull didn’t fare too badly in last week’s final round – winning by half a stroke on the course on Sunday’s greens. But against Vu, he was the biggest separator of the 54-hole co-leaders on the day, with strokes gained by five shots to the six-shot margin. Hull’s play in and around the greens was her strength during the championship. The now three-time major runner-up was ranked third for the week in strokes gained, fifth in scrambling and eighth in strokes gained around the green.

The incredible approach game that Hull displayed in the third round just didn’t carry over into the final round: He led the field in hit-and-run on Saturday, winning 3.53 shots on the field. On Sunday, he lost more than two strokes to the competition in this aspect of the game. Hull is the first player to finish runner-up at the US Women’s Open and the AIG Women’s Open in the same season since Meg Mallon in 2000.

Red white and blue

This season marked the first time American players won three or more majors in one LPGA season since 2014, when Lexi Thompson, Michelle Wie and Mo Martin won. In the intervening eight years, there has not been a single season in which the United States has claimed more than one major championship.

The last time Americans headed into a Solheim Cup having won three majors that season was 1994, when Donna Andrews, Patty Sheehan and Martha Nause each won. Team USA would then go to The Greenbrier in West Virginia and beat the European team soundly, 13 to 7.

The Solheim Cup is less than a month away.

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