Lilia Vu comes back from injury to claim her fifth LPGA title in a play-off with Lexi Thompson and Grace Kim

At 2:42 p.m. local time on Sunday, Lilia Vu signed for a seven-under-par 65 after the final round of the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give. The American started the day in a tie for 14th, eight shots back of 54-hole leader Grace Kim’s benchmark of 17-under-par.

But by the time Vu walked off the final green at Blythefield Country Club, she held the clubhouse lead. Another two hours later, Vu was a champion once again on the LPGA Tour, the fifth time in two years she’s found herself inside the winner’s circle.

But how did Vu get there? Kim, who started the day with a five-shot lead, opened with two bogeys on one and two to give an opening to the rest of the field. She added a birdie on six but cancelled it out with another bogey on nine, making the turn at 15-under in the final group alongside 11-time LPGA Tour winner Lexi Thompson and three-time major champion Anna Nordqvist.

Kim made a birdie down the stretch on the par-5 14th hole to get back to 16-under and tie the lead, and after a wayward tee shot on the 18th that led to the Australian taking free relief, Kim was able to save par after her third shot went over the green. Posting a one-over-par 73, Kim had tied Vu’s clubhouse lead.

Watch final round highlights of the Meijer LPGA Classic

The third player in the mix was someone who two weeks ago had announced her retirement from full-time play in her last start at the U.S. Women’s Open – Lexi Thompson. After starting the day at 12-under and making a bogey on six to drop back to 11-under, Thompson put the pedal down in her last 12 holes, making birdies on seven, 10, 12 and 14 before coming to the 18th tee, one shot back of the lead.

Her second shot on the par 5 sailed over the green, leaving the 29-year-old with a difficult chip for eagle to win. Knowing exactly where she stood and unable to putt it with a sprinkler head in the way, Thompson nearly holed her chip shot for an eagle three, tapping in her birdie putt and ultimately finding herself in the fifth playoff of her LPGA Tour career.

Into a three-way play-off

Vu, Kim and Thompson took on the par-5 18th hole twice in the play-off, and all three players made birdie to keep the extra golf alive. The third play-off hole moved to the par-5 4th as the tension built. All players wound up having birdie looks, with Vu splashing out her third shot from the greenside bunker to roughly five feet and putting the pressure on her competitors. Kim and Thompson missed the cup by inches to walk away with pars, and it was Vu who found the bottom the hole to capture her first win since the 2023 ANNIKA driven by Gainbridge at Pelican in her first start back on Tour since March.

“I wasn't thinking about winning. I was thinking about shooting 8-under to make top 10,” said Vu, who carded a bogey-free, 7-under 65 in the final round. “I feel like it can get scorable out here, but I think it's my kind of delusional mind where I'm like okay everybody is probably making a million birdies. I was just on my own journey. This is the one day I was playing really well. I felt really good with my swing. Obviously, coming back from an injury, I was a little up in the air not knowing my swing and felt like I didn't know where my arms were if I wasn't tight. I was just trying to make contact today. That's it.”

Ally Ewing in the mix

Ally Ewing posted her second straight top-five finish, a solo fourth, after a three-under 69 on Sunday. Playing in the penultimate group, Ewing was the closest to catching Kim at the beginning of the day after carding five birdies in six holes between three to eight, but after a bogey on nine, her hot streak cooled. Ewing then made another pair of bogeys on 16 and 17, and even though she came up with just a birdie on the 72nd hole, the three-time LPGA Tour winner missed out on the play-off by one shot.

“I knew I needed to make it, so I paced it off. I told my caddie 57 feet. I knew hitting my second shot into 18, that I needed an eagle,” said Ewing. “So, 57 feet is a little bit further than you would like to have, but an eagle putt is an eagle putt. I grazed the hole, so couldn't ask for much better of a putt other than it going in.”

Allisen Corpuz and Narin An finished in a tie for fifth at 14-under, while Kristen Gillman shot four rounds in the 60s to earn her first top-10 finish on Tour, solo seventh, since a T8 result at the 2020 Ascendant LPGA benefiting Volunteers of America.

We now move into another Major week at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship.