Rose Zhang, world No. 1 amateur golfer and 2-time NCAA champion, turns pro

Rose Zhang, world No. 1 amateur golfer and 2-time NCAA champion, turns pro

In a long-awaited move, Rose Zhang, the two-time NCAA women’s individual golf champion and longtime world number one amateur, announced Friday that she will turn pro.

The Stanford sophomore will debut in the inaugural Mizuho Americas Open at Liberty National Golf Club next week. Zhang, who turned 20 on Wednesday, announced her move on Instagram. She will hold a press conference next Tuesday in Jersey City, NJ, according to her agent, Kevin Hopkins, of Excel Sports Management.

Zhang’s professional debut will be one of the most anticipated in the history of women’s professional golf. Zhang made the cut at the 2019 US Women’s Open as a 16-year-old, won the 2020 US Amateur and finished tied for 11th at the 2020 ANA Inspiration, an LPGA major. She could have gone pro then, but decided to enroll at Stanford instead. While most expected her to play just one season of collegiate golf, she spent two years with the Cardinal.

Those two seasons produced a historic run. Zhang won 12 of 20 college tournaments, winning at an unheard of pace. She broke Tiger Woods’ school record for total wins while playing six fewer tournaments. She also tied Lorena Ochoa for the most wins in Pac-12 women’s golf history.

Zhang won both the 2022 and 2023 women’s individual national championships and led Stanford to the 2022 team national title. She has also won the US Women’s Amateur, the US Girls’ Amateur and the Women’s National Amateur at Augusta.

However, Zhang has been ranked No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking since September 2020, a record.

How good is Zhang?

The accolades are too numerous to list, but of all, Zhang’s most haunting accomplishment is perhaps her collegiate scoring record.

As a freshman, the then 18-year-old set the NCAA single-season record of 69.68 in 31 rounds played.

Then, as a sophomore, she broke that record, shaving almost a full stroke (0.98) off her previous total and setting a new mark of 68.70 in 27 rounds.

In all, 50 of Zhang’s 58 collegiate rounds finished at par or better. She fired 31 bullets in the 60s. In addition to her 12 wins, she also posted six other top 10s.

It has long been speculated that, while playing as an amateur, Zhang basically translated into a top-15 or top-20 in the world. There is no exact measure of this, but Zhang is expected to compete in the professional ranks immediately.

Her coaches often say it’s not one area of ​​Zhang’s game that stands out the most — driving, ball-handling, short game — but all of her pieces and her decision-making.

What is Zhang’s impact on women’s professional golf?

Having previously signed major name, image and likeness deals while in college, Zhang will enter the ranks of professionals with massive sponsorships already. She holds seven-figure deals with Callaway, Adidas and others.

Zhang’s amateur career was always a point of fascination among golf fans. She will attract attention early and often as a professional.

This summer, she is expected to play in all five majors and, if all goes according to plan, use a series of tournament exemptions to secure her LPGA tour card.

After the Mizuho Americas, over the next two months, Zhang will play in the US Women’s Open at Pebble Beach (June 22-25), the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Baltusrol (July 6-9), the Dana Open (July 13-16) and the Evian Championship (July 27-30).

(Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *