Lilia Vu blitzes back nine, edges out Lexi Thompson in playoff at Meijer LPGA Classic

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Lilia Vu won the Meijer LPGA Classic in a playoff Sunday in her return from a back injury, spoiling Lexi Thompson’s bid for her first victory in five years.

Playing for the first time since the Ford Championship in late March in Arizona, Vu beat Thompson and third-round leader Grace Kim with a five-foot birdie putt on the third extra hole — the par-5 fourth at tree-lined Blythefield Country Club.

A former No. 1 player and double major winner last year, Vu won for the fifth time on the LPGA Tour.

“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, the 2015 winner, has said this will be her last year playing a full schedule. She won the last of her 11 LPGA Tour titles at the ShopRite LPGA Classic in June 2019.

Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., finished tied for 34th at 7 under. Alena Sharp of Hamilton, Ont., tied for 79th at 6 over.

“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, then twice more to match Thompson and Kim — who entered the day five strokes ahead of Thompson and eight clear of Vu — on the first two playoff holes.

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

On the deciding hole, the 27-year-old former UCLA star 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 tries after laying up following errant drives.

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

Vu birdied four of the last six holes in regulation to match Thomson and Kim at 16-under 272.

“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.

Thompson closed with a birdie for a 68.

“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.”

Kim shot 73. The 23-year-old Australian won in a playoff last year in Hawaii for her lone LPGA Tour title.

Ally Ewing was fourth at 15 under after a 69. Allisen Corpuz and Narin An were 14 under, each shooting 70s.

Top-ranked Nelly Korda left Friday after missing her second straight cut following a stretch of six victories in seven events. She won at Blythefield in 2021 at a tournament-record 25 under.

The major KPMG Women’s PGA Championship begins Thursday at Sahalee outside Seattle.

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