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Lilia Vu, Ruoning Yin more had LPGA breakthroughs in 2023

2023 AIG Women's Open

Lindy Duncan, the 208th-ranked player in the world, considered 2023 to be a make-or-break year. She began the season with no status, and told herself, I’m either going to get better at golf, or I’m going to do something else.

Last November at The Annika, the penultimate event of the LPGA season, Duncan emerged from the scoring tent on Sunday in a jolly good mood. She’d finished the season 92nd on the CME points list, her card secured for another year.

“I feel like I’m playing some of the best that I’ve played,” she said, “ever.”

While Duncan wasn’t in the headlines this season, her comeback story is one of many. Lilia Vu thought about going to law school not long ago, after a 2019 rookie season on the LPGA left her feeling “destroyed.” Vu’s mother convinced her to keep going.

“I just remember being miserable,” said Vu. “This is like the dream, everything we ever worked for was to be out here, and I was just not in the right mindset for it.”

But Vu dug deep, used her late grandfather’s strength as motivation and soared to No. 1 in the world after winning four times in 2023, including two majors.

2023 AIG Women's Open

Lilia Vu celebrates on the 18th green after winning the 2023 AIG Women’s Open at Walton Heath Golf Club in Surrey, England. (Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Ruoning Yin missed the cut in seven of her first nine starts as a rookie last year. She, too, called home and told her mom she wanted to quit. She was hitting it poorly, which led her to practice even harder, ballooning from 100 balls per range session to 500.

Now she was fed up and in pain.

“My mom told me, if you cannot swing just don’t swing,” recalled Yin, “just do your putting drills, practice putting and chipping – you’ll be fine. No matter what, we still love you.”

That message gave Yin the peace she needed to power through. She tied for fourth at the Dana Open in Toledo and never looked back. Now a major champion and budding star in China, Yin ranks No. 2 in the world behind Vu.

Coming back from maternity leave proved more stressful than Azahara Munoz imagined. The battle to keep her tour card made her feel like throwing up all week at The Annika. Munoz came into the event 100th on the CME points list. The top 100 keep full status for 2024. Munoz said she was so stressed out she didn’t even want to tee it up.

“I was like, if this is how stressful it is, I don’t know if I want to play golf,” she said. “It’s no fun at all.”



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