LPGA History at the Inaugural Mizuho Americas Open

posted June 5, 2023 in CommRadio, Sports by Amanda Vogt

JERSEY CITY, N.J. - Rose Zhang’s LPGA career is in full bloom after her historic win at the Inaugural Mizuho Americas Open. Two playoff holes against Jennifer Kupcho were needed to solidify her victory after bogeying the 72nd hole. 

She simply rose to the occasion during her first professional start, and this won’t be the last time the LPGA gets a taste of Zhang.

“Yeah, I’m super excited,” Zhang said. “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 will receive CME points and official money with her immediate LPGA Tour membership acceptance.

Entering the final round with a two-shot lead, Zhang started smoothly with three straight pars. As the day progressed, the sun disappeared behind the overcasting clouds, and the wind gusts grew more vigorous.

A bogey on four pushed Zhang back to -10 where she co-led momentarily with Kupcho, Eun-Hee Ji and, at times, Aditi Ashok. Considering she shies away from checking leaderboards, Zhang remained steady and parred every hole until 18, when she dropped a shot, forcing the playoff.

“Even though playoffs are never comfortable, I felt like it was such a familiar position that I’ve been in before that when I went out there, there weren’t any other thoughts other than another shot,” Zhang said.

In the second playoff hole, Zhang used a four-hybrid from 180 yards and put it within seven feet “to put [herself] in a position where [she] could two-putt and seal the deal.”

Zhang is the first player to win while making her professional debut since Beverly Hanson in 1951. She is the fourth first-time winner this season on the LPGA Tour, alongside Lilia Vu, Ruoning Yin and Grace Kim.

This year alone, Zhang won the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, successfully defended her NCAA Women’s Golf Championship Individual Championship title and racked up eight Stanford victories, which tied Tiger Woods for the most by a Stanford player in school history.

Before closing the chapter on her amateur career, Zhang spent 141 weeks as the NO. 1 ranked amateur in the world – the most of any player.

While she leaves Liberty National with a victory, Zhang’s entering expectations were only to make the cut.

“I’m in this new position, so when I went out there, I really just — I really tried to enjoy it,” Zhang said. “I think that’s the mindset that I had throughout the rounds that really allowed me to push through and figure out how to get that golf ball in the hole.”

All week long, fans followed Zhang throughout her rounds, and during rounds three and four, large crowds petaled around her. A group of fans trademarked themselves as the “Rose Buds,” which was a testament to how much support she had.

“I have never had support like that,” Zhang said. “Throughout the week, I told my caddie, this is actually hilarious. I never imagined anyone would be cheering for me this loud, and I appreciated every single bit of that support.”

Overall, it was a week full of history at Liberty National Golf Club, which also saw 24 AJGA juniors tee it up with the LPGA professionals in the concurrent events. They used Stableford Scoring and some alternate tees throughout the week that saw points distributed based on scoring relative to par. Yana Wilson took home the AJGA title by a three-point margin over Anna Davis after they started round four tied for the lead.

As for Zhang, this is only the first chapter of her professional LPGA story, and she admits that the “transition has just started.”

“Going forward, I understand that there are going to be a lot of bumps in the road,” Zhang said. “This is just the start; this is just a stepping stone. It’s crazy that this is my first win. My first professional win already, but no doubt there are going to be a lot more things happening down the road.

Amanda Vogt is a rising sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email amandaevogt@gmail.com.