Stanford coach Anne Walker expected more out of her star. Rose Zhang was constantly putting herself into poor positions. Missing fairways. Finding the wrong side of the green. Taking herself out of the hole with little mistakes.
Things you don’t expect from the No. 1 amateur in the world. From the best women’s amateur of all time.
Zhang, then a sophomore at Stanford, sat 6 under heading into the final round of the 2023 NCAA Championship at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona. Even with what her college coach knew wasn’t close to her A-game, Zhang was still in position to win. To defend her title. To leave her mark. “Rose is fully accountable,” Walker said. “She’s an incredibly intelligent golfer. She decided that no matter what happened, she would be putting herself into position.”
Did she ever.
Zhang shot 4 under in the final round, coming from behind to become the first woman to win consecutive individual NCAA championships.
Only 13 days later on the other side of the country, Zhang hit a 4-hybrid from 180 yards to 6 feet on the second playoff hole to make birdie and win her professional debut at the LPGA’s Mizuho Americas Open at Liberty National in New Jersey.
In that 13-day span, Zhang showed why the hype she has received for years is well worth it. She had the greatest amateur career for any woman in the history of the game, and in her first professional event, she beat the best female golfers in the world on the biggest stage. Yet Zhang has hardly sniffed all she can achieve in golf, and at only 20 years old, her future is as bright as any young star in the game.
“Just to have someone come out there and do basically what (Nancy) Lopez did – prove that you were a great amateur and took it right into the pros. … We need that, you know?” Hall-of-Famer JoAnne Carner, who won five U.S. Women’s Amateur titles and an LPGA event as an amateur, said of Zhang.
Zhang’s rise from young tennis and soccer player to golf phenom started
in Irvine, California, at 9 years old.
Her father, Haibin, took Zhang to a park in their hometown to hit some shots. The natural…