Eight rookies will make their debut in the upcoming Solheim Cup later this month in Spain, including two of the world’s top young talents, setting up for what could be an exciting next decade-plus for the women’s game.
Rose Zhang, the 20-year-old phenom who won her first professional start on the LPGA earlier this summer, is one of those eight and earned her membership and a spot on the team via her world ranking, a feat even she didn’t think was possible.
“It’s been pretty crazy because I expected myself to also be a captain’s pick,” said Zhang ahead of this week’s Kroger Queen City Championship at Kenwood Country Club in Cincinnati, Ohio. “Initially I didn’t even think it was possible for me to claim a spot because I wasn’t an LPGA member to start with, so the fact that I was able to get in by rankings and have (Stacy Lewis) be my captain — she was my captain at Spirit International — so the fact that we have that kind of little bond in common really makes me feel honored to be able to play with her and on her team again.”
Zhang is the perfect team player. She doesn’t have a flaw in her game and can mix well in any crowd. In fact, it’s the camaraderie she’s looking forward to the most when she makes her Solheim Cup debut at Finca Cortesin in Spain, Sept. 22-24.
“Us as athletes, it’s our dreams to be able to represent our countries, and for me to put on the red, white, and blue as a professional, there is no greater honor,” said Zhang. “At the same time, I’m playing with players that I’ve watched growing up, and to say that we’re teammates is pretty crazy, especially with everything that happened the last couple months.”
Despite the fact the U.S. squad had a team dinner Tuesday, Zhang said it hasn’t set in that she’s earned a spot in her first half season on tour, and probably won’t until she steps on the property.
“I don’t think it’s actually going to start feeling real unless I go out there and actually play, just because it’s almost like a surreal experience that I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like on the first tee,” admitted the always humble Zhang. “Even in the practice round, going to the venue, it’s going to seem all a dream until it’s over.”
“There is so much to expect, but at the same time, I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like,” she added.