Rose Zhang says priority was to make cut after taking lead in LPGA Tour debut!

Rose Zhang has gone far beyond her original goals heading into her first LPGA Tour event this week. 

Lara Kuipers's picture
Sun, 4 Jun 2023
Rose Zhang says priority was to make cut after taking lead in LPGA Tour debut!

Rose Zhang has already achieved well more than her original goal heading into her first LPGA Tour event this week. 

Zhang, the 20-year-old phenom from California, announced she was turning professional just last week. 

The decision was made public shortly after she earned her second straight NCAA individual title, becoming the first woman to accomplish the feat. 

It's been an incredible year so far for Zhang, who also broke the record for most wins by a Stanford University golfer after the national championship marked her 12th in just 20 starts.

The previous record of 11 was accomplished by three former Stanford golfers, including 82-time PGA Tour winner Tiger Woods

Her 12th collegiate career win was also her eighth in the season alone as just a sophomore, tying the NCAA single-season record. 

Earlier in the year Zhang also won the Augusta National Women's Amateur and set a new record for most weeks holding the No. 1 spot in the women's amateur rankings. 

On Thursday, Zhang began her professional debut at Michelle Wie West's inaugural Mizuho Americas Open. 

The tournament is being played at Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey. 

Zhang started the new chapter of her career with an impressive 2-under par 70. She was five strokes back of the lead after 18 holes. 

She followed it up with a 3-under par 69 on Friday to score a third-round pairing with 13-time LPGA Tour winner Brooke Henderson. 

Playing alongside the Canadian, Zhang shot a 6-under 66 Saturday to take a two-stroke lead into Sunday's final round. 

After her bogey-free day, Zhang spoke to reporters, where she admitted her original goal was just to simply make the cut this week.

"I was expecting myself to scramble into the cut. That was the first priority for me," she said, adding:

"I've been enjoying every moment. I feel like the weekend is something that I've been -- I've experienced before but as an amateur, so obviously it is a little different.
"I've just been trying to take it all in, figure out what to do inside the ropes, rather than just, you know, be blindsided."

Despite having never led a tournament as a professional, Zhang says she's been comfortable on the golf course. 

"I think it's just great to be in that position. It just shows that leading up the last three days you've been doing a great job at playing your best on the golf course.
"And I think that for me, I've been in this position before, but I haven't been in this position as a professional, since this is my first week, so I'm really just learning everything that I could.
"Tomorrow I'll be just trying to figure out what it feels like to be in the final group, navigate my way through, and I'm sure by the end of the day I'll be able to, you know, just build my character more."

Zhang will tee off for Sunday's final round with Atthaya Thitikul at 1:55 p.m. local time. 

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