Lilia Vu returns from back injury to beat Lexi in playoff

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Lilia Vu (Photo by Raj Mehta/Getty Images)

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After a two month hiatus, Lilia Vu won the Meijer LPGA Classic in a playoff to deny Lexi Thompson a first victory in five years on Sunday.

Playing for the first time since the Ford Championship in late March after taking time to recover from a back injury, Vu beat Thompson and third-round leader Grace Kim with a 5-foot birdie putt on the third extra hole for her fifth LPGA Tour title.

“I think this is the most meaningful win, because there was a time two months ago where I was just crying on the range not being sure if I would every play a tournament again without pain,” Vu said. “Like to be here today, it’s just incredible.”

Thompson who is set to retire at the end of the season won the last of her 11 LPGA Tour titles at the ShopRite LPGA Classic in June 2019.

“It was an amazing day out there,” Thompson said. “The golf is one thing, but just to be able to play in front of all amazing fans, especially coming down the stretch and on the playoff holes. I don’t think I’ve heard cheers like that unless it’s like Solheim Cup.”

Vu birdied the par-5 18th in regulation for a 7-under 65 and having teed off eight shots back of Kim at the start of the day she was just thinking about climbing into the top-10 and gaining some momentum before next week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

“I wasn’t thinking about winning,” Vu said. “I was thinking about shooting 8 under to make top 10.”

On the third playoff hole Vu hit her second shot into the bunker to the right of the green and blasted out to set up the birdie. Thompson and Kim missed long birdie efforts in response.

“Ended up in the bunker and made up-and-down, and somehow I’m here with the trophy,” Vu said.

“Obviously, coming back from an injury I was a little up in the air not knowing my swing,” Vu said. “I was just trying to make contact today. That’s it.”

The eight-stroke comeback is the largest of the season, one more than Linnea Strom overcame last week in the ShopRite LPGA Classic where she shot a 61 to come from nowhere to win.

“I still have about 10 or so events after this one, so a lot of golf to be played,” Thompson said. “I want to finish strong. Every time I tee it up I want to win. I think that’s everybody’s goal out here.”

Stephanie Meadow was three-under with Leona Maguire on one-under.

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