Player Pursuits News

Rose Zhang: From Amateur Phenom to Professional Hopeful

Rose Zhang hits her tee shot on the 17th hole at Augusta. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

Rose Zhang is one of the most accomplished amateur golfers in history. She has won multiple prestigious titles, dominated the college scene, and reached the top of the amateur world rankings. Now, she is ready to take on a new challenge: playing as a professional on the LPGA Tour.

Zhang was born in Arcadia, California, on May 24, 2003. She started playing golf at age 9, after her father received a set of clubs from a friend and soon showed a natural talent and passion for the game, and began competing in local and national tournaments.

Zhang’s major breakthrough came in 2019, when she was 16 years old. She qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open at the Country Club of Charleston in South Carolina, finishing in a respectable tie for 55th place. She also won a gold medal at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, as part of the U.S. mixed team, and was named by the American Junior Golf Association as the 2019 Girls Rolex Junior Player of the Year.

In 2020, Zhang achieved one of her biggest goals: winning the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, the oldest and most prestigious event in women’s amateur golf. She defeated Gabriela Ruffels in a thrilling 38-hole final, becoming the first player from California to win the title since 2007. She also finished as the low amateur at the ANA Inspiration, another major championship, where she tied for 11th place.

Success continued for Zhang in 2021, when she enrolled at Stanford University and joined its women’s golf team. She won the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship and helped Stanford win its second NCAA team title. She also received the Annika Award, given to the best female college golfer of the year.

In 2022, Zhang repeated as the NCAA individual champion, becoming the first woman in history to accomplish the feat. She also signed a lucrative endorsement deal with Adidas, making her one of the first student athletes to benefit from the new name, image, and likeness rules. She competed in two more majors, the U.S. Women’s Open and the Women’s British Open, where she earned the Smyth Salver Award for being the low amateur.

In 2023, Zhang added two more trophies to her collection: the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship, which she won in a playoff over Jenny Bae; and the Mark H. McCormack Medal, which she received for being the top-ranked amateur in the world for three consecutive years.

Rose Zhang poses with the championship trophy after winning the Augusta National Women’s Amateur in a playoff over Jenny Bae at Augusta National Golf Club on April 01, 2023 in Augusta, Georgia. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

After her sophomore year at Stanford, Zhang decided to turn professional and follow her dream of playing on the LPGA Tour. She received a sponsor’s exemption to play in her first tournament as a pro: the 2023 Mizuho Americas Open at Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey, taking place June 1-4, 2023. Zhang is excited and confident about her debut, but also grateful for her amateur career. She said: “I’ve had an amazing journey as an amateur golfer. I’ve learned so much from playing with different players and competing in different events. I’m very thankful for all the opportunities and support I’ve received along the way.”

Zhang hopes to continue her success as a professional golfer and inspire others with her game. She said: “I love golf because it challenges me every day and brings me joy. I want to share that joy with others and show them that anything is possible with hard work and dedication.”

Rose Zhang. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

It will be fascinating to see how she fares at her first event as a professional, also the first LPGA event to be held at Liberty National Golf Club, and her first shot at a purse, which for this event will be $2.75 million, with the winner taking home $412,500. Regardless of the result this weekend, Zhang’s future is most definitely a bright one.

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