Sun. Sep 24th, 2023
‘I have not seen anything’

Rose Zhang absolutely dominated the golf world last weekend.

The 20-year-old, fresh off her historic playoff win at Liberty National Golf Club on Sunday night, even drew the attention of the biggest name in the sport — which was something that blew her away.

“Tiger Woods? Oh, my gosh. That’s crazy,” Zhang responded when told of his Tweet. “What can I say to that? I think the reaction itself says everything. It’s just so amazing that he’s even keeping up the tabs with me.”

Based on how she showed out in her professional debut, Zhang shouldn’t be that stunned.

Zhang, arguably the best women’s amateur golfer in history, fended off Jennifer Kupcho in a two-hole playoff on Sunday to win the Mizuho Americas Open in New Jersey. She is now the first person to win on the LPGA Tour while making her professional debut since Beverly Hanson in 1951. She’s also the first ever to win the NCAA Division I individual title and win on the LPGA Tour in the same season — something she did in just a two-week span.

Zhang was better than Woods was at Stanford, too. She is the only woman to win back-to-back NCAA titles, and she set the NCAA single-season scoring record twice. Zhang won 12 of the 20 college tournaments that she played in. Woods only won 11 times in his 26 starts with the Cardinal. Before turning pro last week, Zhang was ranked No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings for a record 141 consecutive weeks.

And in Woods’ pro debut, at the 1996 Greater Milwaukee Open, he finished 12 shots behind the winner in a tie for 60th.

Now to be fair, Zhang has a long way to go to even come close to Woods’ professional success. He’s won 82 times on the PGA Tour, tied for the most ever.

While she’s lived up to the hype surrounding her, Zhang’s start blew away her expectations.

“I honestly didn’t even expect to make the cut, and the reason why I say this is because I don’t think about my expectations a lot,” Zhang said. “I think about playing the golf course. I think about trying to shoot the best score that I can. Obviously I have frustrations, disappointments with my game, but I never once think about where I finish, where I should finish, et cetera.

“So with that on my mind, the expectation for me winning did not even cross my mind. I was just playing my game. I was having a good time out there. This is the game that I love, and I’m so thankful to be a professional doing it now.”

Rose Zhang won the Mizuho Americas Open in a playoff on Sunday, making her the first to win on the LPGA Tour in her pro debut since 1951.

Rose Zhang won the Mizuho Americas Open in a playoff on Sunday, making her the first to win on the LPGA Tour in her pro debut since 1951. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Rose Zhang accepts full LPGA Tour membership

The win on Sunday not only earned Zhang a check for more than $400,000, but it officially earned her full-time LPGA Tour membership, something she immediately accepted.

Zhang was only playing last week on a sponsor exemption, something she was also granted for the upcoming major championships. Now, though, Zhang is a full-fledged member of the Tour and can play essentially whenever she’d like.

“You guys will see me more on the LPGA Tour, as I am taking membership from now on, and I’ll be playing in 2023,” she said.

Zhang, however, won’t be at the Shoprite LPGA Classic this week. First and foremost, she has a few finals and classes to complete at Stanford.

“It is most certainly on my mind,” she said when asked about her classes. “I have no idea what I’m going to do with that. I’ve got an essay due, PSAT due for CS. We’ll figure that out. I’m also moving on the 13th, so I have a busy week ahead of me, and that’s not golf related.”

It’s unclear when Zhang will hit the course again, though it almost certainly won’t be too far down the road. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship is just a few weeks away, and is followed up by the U.S. Women’s Open at Pebble Beach.

Until then, Zhang is trying to just block out the expectations around her.

“I will say that this has been an incredible experience, but I have not seen anything thus far,” she said. “Going forward I understand that there is going to be a lot of bumps in the road, and I’m expecting a lot of obstacles that I’ll have to uptake and uphold.

“But I think this is just the start. This is just a stepping stone. It’s crazy that this is my first win, first professional win already, but no doubt there is going to be a lot more things happening down the road. I’m just going to be continuing to learn inside the ropes.”

By Editor

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