NAPLES, Florida – Lilia Vu cried on the 18th green last year at the CME Group Tour Championship. The desire to win was so great that when the season came to an end, Vu broke down.
“It’s kind of this concept where when you want something too much, it gets away from you,” she said of her close calls. “You just have to believe it’s coming, and I did that this year.”
Just before Vu left for CME last season, the windshield wipers blew off her car. Her caddie urged her to buy a new car during the offseason. Vu told herself that she’d buy her dream car, a Mercedes Benz G550, after she won her first event. Vu jumped the gun, however, and bought it before that first triumph came at the Honda LPGA Thailand in February. Three more victories have since followed, including two majors.
“I was like, ‘Oh, it’s because I knew I was going to win,’ ” she said with a smile.
Vu enters the final event of the 2023 season with 27-point lead over Celine Boutier in the Rolex Player of the Year race. Boutier, who became the first Frenchwoman to win the Amundi Evian over the summer, will need to win the CME to have a chance of upsetting Vu. A victory is worth 30 points.
Boutier would be the first Frenchwoman to win the award. No American has won the POY since Stacy Lewis in 2014.
Neither Vu nor Boutier had ever won an LPGA event prior to this season, making their rise in 2023 all the more intriguing.
Boutier didn’t start thinking about her chances for Player of the Year until after she won an epic nine-hole playoff in Malaysia for her fourth title. She knew it would take something special to overtake Vu’s two major victories. While the PGA Tour uses a player vote to determine its POY, Boutier appreciates the LPGA’s points format.
“You just can’t fight against points,” she said.
Last season, Boutier ranked third on the LPGA in top-10 finishes with 12 in 24 starts. While she can’t really point to one aspect of her game that’s drastically different to last year, she does believe that putting herself in the mix so many times in 2022 gave her the confidence to enjoy a breakout season.
Vu, who returned to No. 1 in the world after her victory last week at The Annika, currently tops the money list with $3,252,303….