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Charley Hull fell short in her bid for a first major title as American Lilia Vu produced a brilliant final-round 67 to win the AIG Women’s Open by six shots.
England’s Hull began the day tied for the lead with Vu but while the latter posted a serene five-under-par total at Walton Heath to clinch her second major, the home favourite finished with a one-over-par 73.
Vu, who won the first major of the year in April at the Chevron Championship, made six birdies, dropping her only shot on the 15th, and was never seriously threatened after Hull had bogeyed the fourth and fifth holes.
After being briefly held up when protesters let off flares on the 17th after she and Hull had both completed the hole, with those involved led away by police and security staff, Vu told Sky Sports: “This has been the best crowd I’ve ever played (in front of) in my life.
“I will remember this moment for the rest of my life. They’ve been so great. Even though I know they were rooting for Charley, but they clapped for me too.
“I was not calm inside, trust me. It just comes down to not thinking about winning, just playing one shot at a time.
“This golf course really forces you to do that, it really tests you. So that was my only goal, just to drive the ball well and just give myself chances for birdie.”
Hull, who finished joint-second at the US Women’s Open at Pebble Beach in July, was unable to kick-start her challenge until a brilliant eagle at the 11th.
That took her to within two shots of Vu, but two more dropped shots at the 15th and 17th scuppered her hopes.
The 27-year-old finished with a flurry, saving par at the 18th with a monster putt having driven from the rough into a bunker, but Vu sealed a comfortable win with another birdie.
“I feel a bit deflated,” Hull said. “I don’t feel like anything went my way.
“I feel like I actually played quite solid, just didn’t really hole many putts.
“Truthfully I want to be with my coach at 10 o’clock tomorrow and I want to work on a load of stuff.
“I feel that I have come close twice in the two biggest majors, the US Open and the Women’s Open, so I really feel like next year is my time to win one.”
The overnight joint-leaders started the final round one shot clear of American Angel Yin and South Korea’s Kim Hyo-joo, but former world number one and two-time Open winner Jiyai Shin sealed third place with a final round of 70.
Shin finished one shot clear of fellow South Koreans Amy Yang (70) and Kim (74), while American trio Allisen Corpuz, Ally Ewing and Yin were tied in sixth place.
Hull paid the price for two dropped shots on the fourth and fifth, finding herself three shots adrift of Vu, who had birdied the second, heading into the fifth.
Vu’s lead was cut to two shots when Hull produced a superb eagle at the par-five 11th, holing from the greenside sand before shrieking in celebration and stumbling on her way out of the bunker, but the 25-year-old Californian showed nerves of steel and responded with a birdie at the 12th.
Both players bogeyed the 15th before Vu extended her advantage with birdies at 16th and 18th, while Hull faltered as dropped shots at the 15th and 17th sandwiched her only birdie of the day at the 16th.