Lilia Vu nearly quit golf. Now, she’s the best player in the world

lilia vu waves to the crowd during the 2023 aig womens open

In the midst of the pandemic, Lilia Vu was on the verge of quitting golf. Now, she's a two-time major winner and ranked No. 1 in the world.

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Ah, 2023. The year everything changed … again. For the second straight year, we left 2023 with a drastically different perspective of professional golf than we entered. Now, as we look back at the year that was — with LIV major championships, Ryder Cup controversies and oh so many other stories — we’re remembering the 15 biggest moments that defined the year in golf. Let’s get digging.

Biggest Golf Moments of 2023 …
No. 15: Viktor Hovland’s arrival 
No. 14: Fowler, Day back in the winner’s circle 
No. 13: Brian Harman’s Open rout 
No. 12: The Michael Block Party 
No. 11: Wyndham Clark’s breakout 

Biggest Golf Moments of 2023 No. 10: Lilia Vu’s rise to the top

As the calendar turns to 2024, Lilia Vu sits on top of the golf world. After a year with four victories — including two major titles — the 26-year-old is the top-ranked player in the world. She entered 2023 in relative anonymity. She’ll begin 2024 with a target on her back.

Vu, at times, made golf look simple during her breakout campaign. Her rhythmic swing and craftiness around the greens revealed few weaknesses in her game. When it all worked in concert, the rest of the field was playing for second.

“It’s just been wild,” Vu said reflecting on her year. “I don’t think I expected this at all. I have said this before — I came in with no expectations.”

It might sound like a platitude, but in Vu’s case, zero expectations was fact. That’s because just a few years ago, she nearly gave up the game for good.

four pictures: top right - nelly korda swings in blue shirt and teal shorts, top left - lilia vu celebrates on a green in blue dress, bottom right, european solheim cup team celebrates together, bottom left - lexi thompson waves with a glove on her left hand
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By: Zephyr Melton

In her rookie season on the LPGA Tour in 2019, Vu made just $3,830. In nine starts, she made just one cut. She was totally lost playing the game she loved. Things were no better away from the course, as her grandfather died early on in the Covid-19 pandemic, sending her deeper into a spiral. Despite being fresh off a storied amateur career — including a rise to the top of the World Amateur Golf Ranking — Vu was considering giving up professional golf for good.

“I was just in such a bad place,” Vu said. “Everything was life or death. I just saw everybody that I’ve competed with being successful, and I just compared myself all the time.”

Heavy as things got, Vu decided to push through. After a lifetime pursuit of the game, she just couldn’t give it up. And in 2023, that persistence paid off.

In her first start of the season, at the Honda LPGA Thailand, Vu finally broke through. Powered by a bogey-free, eight-under 64 in the final round, Vu claimed her first title at the highest level.

“[It] feels really good to get it done,” Vu said. “I feel like I put a lot of pressure on myself at the end of last year, and during the offseason I kind of just changed my mindset.”

That mindset change continued to pay dividends. Vu continued her stellar play over her next three starts, finishing no worse than T14 during that stretch. Still, the best was yet to come. In Texas, at the first Chevron Championship contested away from Mission Hills, Vu won her first major championship as she prevailed in a playoff over Angel Yin.

“I [can’t] believe that that happened,” Vu said. “That we won a major.”

It wouldn’t be her last major triumph of 2023. Vu bookended the major season hoisting another trophy, this time at the AIG Women’s Open. And her six-stroke victory had an added bonus as she ascended to world No. 1 for the first time in her career.

“It’s just been a crazy year for me,” Vu said.

Crazy. Impressive. Dominant. Whatever you want to call it, one thing is certain: it sure was fun to watch.

Zephyr Melton Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at