Lilia Vu: Star on the Rise
Photographs by: USGA/Steven Gibbons
As the number one ranked amateur in women’s golf, Lilia Vu is already well on the radar of the LPGA. But before she decides to turn pro, she will be proud to represent the United States this June in the 2018 Curtis Cup, the most prestigious team trophy in women’s amateur golf and a tournament long known for launching the professional career of many great female golfers.
“It’s an honor and extremely validating to be selected to represent the United States on such a competitive stage,” Vu says. “Last month, I was golfing with (LPGA pro) Emma Talley, and she told me she’d be watching and rooting us on. To see how much this event means to everyone is pretty cool.”
Ever since Michelle Wie qualified for a USGA amateur event at age 10, the pressure has been tremendous for women golfers to turn pro at as early an age as possible.
For Vu, now 20, being an amateur golfer was not something to be avoided. Instead, it was the road best travelled.
“If you want to go immediately into the tour from high school you have to be exceptionally good. I was good but I was never that good”, said Vu. “By going to college you can become a better golfer with the coaches and resources. You also have the opportunity to be a more rounded person and get an education in case things don’t work out with going pro.”
While many kids are more likely to grab the remote and put on the Disney Channel, Vu was grabbing up her first golf club. “I picked up the game of golf at the age 7. Watching my older brother play really peaked my interest and I knew that was a sport I could get pretty passionate about.”
With her brother Andre currently playing golf at UC Riverside, Vu always found it motivating to have a fellow family member involved in the game she grew up playing.
“It definitely helped (having a brother who plays golf). I was always motivated to go out there and play but having someone else to play with who was equally passionate definitely helped.”
A world away from the friendly sibling competition she grew up with, Vu reflects on the culture shock of experiencing LPGA matches as an amateur.
“It’s definitely way different going to an LPGA tour event versus a college event. Everyone is super serious and the competition is way more intense.”
At UCLA, the competition could be more intense than Vu lets on. While Stanford’s Andrea Lea was once considered a lock for the college player of the year award in the fall, Vu has moved into a heated race for the honor with four straight individual titles. As a junior, Vu is now first all-time in career victories in UCLA’s history with eight.
Despite her most recent hot streak at UCLA, Vu has been sure to keep her eyes on the upcoming prize.
“My goal now is to bring the Curtis Cup back,” Vu says. “Representing your country is a pretty cool honor and I definitely want to make the most of it.”