[PHOTO: Andy Lyons]

The Chevron Championship’s defending champion didn’t even get to the first tee for round one. Lilia Vu withdrew from the Chevron ahead of her 1:10pm tee-time. The LPGA did not provide a reason. Vu’s manager did not respond to a request for comment.

Today marks the third withdrawal of Vu’s injury-marred 2024 campaign. The 26-year-old suffered from back spasms while in South-East Asia, exiting the HSBC Women’s World Championship after the third round, and the Blue Bay LPGA after her first 18.

The Californian returned at the Fir Hills Se Ri Pak Championship, where she lost her spot as the No.1 player in the Rolex Women’s World Ranking when Nelly Korda won her second consecutive tournament. Vu’s last start on the LPGA was at the Ford Championship three weeks ago, when she also played in all four rounds, including an opening 64, for a T-21 finish.

“The only goal today was to hit the ball solid,” Vu said. “It’s been kind of difficult the past couple of weeks just playing through pain and trying to make contact with the golf ball.”

The two-time major champion met with the media on Tuesday at the Country Club of Carlton Woods, explaining that she felt close to full strength. Vu had started working out last week and felt fine, with nightly stretching helping her recover. Feeling comfortable exercising instead of just doing physical therapy was a significant improvement from the previous months, when Vu would sometimes cry on the range because her back wouldn’t hold up.

“I definitely feel a lot better than I did at PV and Phoenix,” Vu said. “I would say we’re basically 95 percent there. If I stay healthy this week I think I’ll be able to do what I need to do.”

The early exit ends the first major title defence of her career.