Lilia Vu becomes second American to qualify for 2024 Solheim Cup squad

To say that Lilia Vu’s last 18 months have made for a wild ride is an understatement.

From the highest of highs (her first LPGA victory in Thailand, two major wins at the Chevron and AIG Women’s Open) to some trying times (back injuries forcing her to the sidelines for months, including her Chevron defense as well as the U.S. Women’s Open), Vu has continued to battle.

Her victory via a playoff at the Meijer LPGA Classic in June and subsequent second-place finish at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship have pushed Vu back into rarified air as she has mathematically clinched a spot on the 2024 U.S. Solheim Cup team.

This marks the second time she will represent her country in the biennial competition. She posted a 1-3-0 record at Finca Cortesin, Spain, in 2022 as the Europeans kept the cup by virtue of a 14-14 draw. Vu joins Nelly Korda as the first two automatic qualifiers for the U.S. side.

Stacy Lewis, who will again captain the Americans, wasn’t surprised that the UCLA product made the squad.

“Coming off last year, when Lilia had an unbelievable year, it was just a matter of time for her to make the team,” Lewis said. “This year, not getting started the way she would have liked and having to deal with her injury definitely set her back for a bit. It’s been very exciting to see how she’s played the last two starts, coming out of the injury with her win and really just picking up where she left off.

“She’s a tremendous player, from ball striking to putting with a true all-around game. We’re excited to have her back for her second Solheim Cup, with an opportunity to step up and become a leader on this team.”

2023 Solheim Cup
2023 Solheim Cup

U.S. vice captain Morgan Pressel celebrates another American point with Cheyenne Knight and Lilia Vu during the afternoon four-ball matches on Day One of the 2023 Solheim Cup at Finca Cortesin Golf Club. (Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images)

During her time off due to injury, Vu didn’t change anything technical about her swing, but she has grown more conscious about the way she sits, stands, lies down and breathes, calling it lower-belly breathing.

“I know my patterns,” she said. “I don’t want to get so technical with it because it’s just going to bore everybody. I escape on my right hip, and so trying to breathe through that hip more. Little stuff like that.”

Vu said her team has been trying to get her to make small adjustments for some time now, but because she was playing so well last year, she was hesitant to do so. This, she said, was the perfect time to get to work.

Before hitting any shots, Vu goes through an activation warmup. Going through that routine and being conscious of how her body feels, she said, is more valuable right now than seeing the ball-flight she wants or the ideal distance.

It’s still a daily process.

“Just because I’ve been kind of living in that compensation for a while, so it adds up,” she said. “Then one day, I’m tight and my body is angry, and it blows up.

“So it’s peeling the layers of the onion and getting more stable overall to help me swing with no pain.”

The 19th edition of the Solheim Cup will be held at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Virginia, Sept. 13-15.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek