Vu heralds comeback in style; Pagdanganan falters

Jan Veran - Philstar.com
Vu heralds comeback in style; Pagdanganan falters
Lilia Vu of the United States acknowledges the crowd after winning on the third playoff hole during the final round of the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give at Blythefield Country Club on June 16, 2024 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Raj Mehta / Getty Images / AFP

MANILA, Philippines – Lilia Vu marked her return to the LPGA Tour in style, edging out Lexi Thompson and Grace Kim in a thrilling three-hole playoff to snare the LPGA Meijer Classic crown. The victory was especially significant for the two-time major champion, who was coming off a two-month hiatus due to injury.

Vu fired a solid 65 in the final round, forcing a sudden death playoff with Thompson, who shot a 68, and Kim, who faltered with a 73, all finishing at 16-under 272 at the Blythefield Country Club in Belmont, Michigan.

The trio birdied the first two extra holes before Vu secured another birdie on the third, which Thompson and Kim failed to match. This clinched the victory for Vu, marking her fifth LPGA Tour title and her first since last November.

“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 ever play a tournament again without pain,” said Vu. She had withdrawn at the last minute from her title defense at The Chevron Championship, the year’s first major, due to a lingering back injury. This forced her to take an extended break from competitive golf to rest and recover.

Meanwhile, Bianca Pagdanganan experienced another late-round struggle, shooting a six-over 78 and tumbling from joint 19th to a share of 62nd at 286.

Despite two birdies, her round was marred by five bogeys and a triple bogey on the par-4 12th, resulting in a 37-41 round. Pagdanganan, whose campaign is sponsored by ICTSI, hit just four fairways and struggled with her approach shots, reaching regulation only nine times and finishing with 29 putts.

Her disappointing finish did not bode well for her preparations for next week’s third major, the Women’s PGA Championship in Washington, where she will be joined by ICTSI stablemates Dottie Ardina and reigning US Women’s Open champion Yuka Saso.

Pagdanganan and Ardina are also set to represent the Philippines in the Paris Olympics next month.

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