The Chevron broke Angel Yin’s heart, but it also revealed her personality
THE WOODLANDS, Texas — After Lilia Vu made her winning birdie putt at the Chevron Championship, Angel Yin picked up her ball marker and walked over to congratulate the champ. She gave Vu a quick hug and then disappeared through the tunnel adjacent to the green.
As the cheers rained down from the grandstands for the newest major winner, Yin kept her head down as security escorted her to the nearby interview area. A media official offered her congrats for the well-played tournament, and Yin stepped to the microphone.
The losers’ press conference is always a bit awkward. The runner-up is rarely in the best of spirits. Tears are common. Some players decline media availability altogether. But not with a player like Yin.
When she stepped up to face the press, there was little indication she’d just suffered the biggest heartbreak of her professional career. Yin is always happy to chum it up with reporters, and this day was no different.
“Not much has changed really,” Yin said. “Other than I lost. There’s that.”
Vu’s leap into the “new Poppie’s Pond” was underway 100 yards behind Yin, but she remained unfazed. There was no bemoaning the lost opportunity or sulking over the sour result. No choking back tears when speaking of the gravity of the moment. After a few questions, it became clear she wasn’t heartbroken. No, she was grateful.
“I’ve just come a long way,” she said. “I’m just really happy with who I am, where I am, and what I’m doing right now. Just a lot to appreciate. If I can talk about how much I appreciate life right now, I’ll get emotional, [but] not over this.”
Despite her defeat, Yin was unchanged. The fun-loving, eccentric 24-year-old who’d teed off five hours earlier was exactly the same as she’d been when her day began.
I first met Angel Yin in the summer of 2021.
We were filming at the Shoprite Classic outside of Atlantic City, N.J. My task was to convince players to pause their practice routines and come shoot videos with us.
Yin was not on the short list of players we’d hoped to film with. In fact, I didn’t even know who she was. We’d never met before, but that didn’t stop her from flagging me down.
“Hey! Sweet shoes dude!” she told me. “Are those supposed to be cows?”
I was wearing a pair of Adidas Stan Smiths. They had cow spots on the midsole, complete with pink spikes. They were a special edition for the upcoming Ryder Cup in Wisconsin, and Yin was the first to notice.
“Are you guys doing videos down there?” she asked. “Can I do one?”
It was the easiest content we filmed all day. Put a camera in front of Yin and she’s sure to say something interesting.
Since then, every time I see Yin, she asks about the shoes. Where’s the swag today? No cow shoes? Each time I cover an LPGA event, I make sure to pack the Stans in case I run into Yin.
Our interactions since then have become more frequent. When I see her on the range, she always stops to chat — even if I’m not interviewing her. There’s no caginess in our interactions. She treats chats with the press like she would any other conversation. Her candidness is a breath of fresh air.
At the U.S. Women’s Open last summer, Yin and I caught up on the range for close to a half hour. When one of her friends flagged her down from outside the ropes, she ushered me over to introduce me.
“This is …,” she paused, unsure of herself. “Sorry dude, I know who you are, but I can’t remember your name. I just know you write for GOLF.com.”
There’s no one quite like Angel Yin.
On the course, Yin’s personality shines just as bright.
She won the California State amateur at the age of 12 and then again at 14. She was the youngest player in the field at the 2011 U.S. Women’s Amateur, and she became the second-youngest ever to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open in 2012. As far as can’t-miss prospects go, she was up there.
When she turned pro in 2016, the success continued. She won on the Ladies European Tour the following year and played on two U.S. Solheim Cup teams in 2017 and 2019. The only thing lacking on her resume was a win on the LPGA Tour.
That win never came. She had solid seasons, finishing in the top 50 on the money list four times, but never managed to find herself in the winner’s circle. Somewhere along the way, her body started to falter, too. In 2022, Yin hit rock bottom. She was on the verge of losing her card.
“The last two majors, [Women’s British Open] and Evian, I couldn’t even move,” Yin said. “I got super injured out of nowhere, so that was really a low point for me, because I couldn’t even get out of bed, and I tried to play still, and it was just impossible.”
Heading to the Chevron Championship, Yin admitted her confidence was low. She didn’t even expect to contend. But after 54 holes, her name sat atop the leaderboard, and she had a chance to capture that elusive victory in one of the most storied championships in women’s golf.
Of course, a victory in Texas would mean the opportunity to jump in “Poppie’s Pond,” continuing a tradition that started with the tournament’s original host in Rancho Mirage, Calif. But questionable water quality at the new tournament site — and, naturally, the threat of alligators — had cast doubt over whether the winner would take the plunge. True to form, Yin was undaunted.
“Let me win, and then I’ll do anything,” Yin said. “Do I sound desperate with that? That’s all I want. I’ve been telling everyone because I was like, if I tell the universe, man, I’m going to manifest it true.”
For a while, it seemed she might have the chance to do it. After birdieing the 72nd hole to force a playoff with Lilia Vu, Yin could practically taste it. As she walked to the scoring area, officials informed her of the playoff procedures and told her to ready for extra holes. Vu and her caddie walked over to wish Yin good luck.
“I shanked it!” Yin said to Vu’s caddie as she laughed. “Did you see on TV?”
Yin was referring to her bunker shot on the 17th hole. She thought it was the most amusing part of her day.
The co-medalists hopped on the back of an officials cart and rode back to the 18th tee. Both split the fairway with their tee shots, but Yin was away. She sized up the shot with her caddie and pulled a long iron.
As soon as the ball left the clubface, she knew it was in trouble.
“Uh oh,” she said.
The ball careened off the stone wall lining the front of the green and splashed in the water. With the tournament in her grasp, Vu blasted her ball long of the green, leaving no doubt it would clear the water. Moments later, Vu poured in her birdie putt. Yin had lost again — in the most heartbreaking fashion yet.
The reality had clearly started to hit Yin by the time she made her way back to speak with media, but there was no sign of self-pity.
“It’s just really positive for me,” she said. “‘I’m just really happy that I’m able to play golf, honestly. To be able to post scores like this, that to me is beyond anything that is happening right now.”
Still, the heartbreak was biting — just not for the reason you might think.
“I am disappointed, though,” she said. “I walked into the locker room right before the playoff, and I saw those cowboy boots, and they said it was only for the winner. Yeah … So disappointing.”
Angel Yin’s day is coming, and goodness it’s well-earned.