LPGA Mizuho Round 3 recap

Story posted June 3, 2023 in CommRadio, Sports by Amanda Vogt

JERSEY CITY, N.J. - Moving day had the winds swirling in different directions as the temperature dropped a mere 20 degrees compared to the first two rounds.

The leaderboard was crowded to begin, but Rose Zhang bloomed to the top by round three’s conclusion.

In her first professional start, the Stanford star holds the 54 lead at -11 in the inaugural Mizuho Americas Open. Zhang was bogey-free en route to a six-under 66, solidifying a two-shot advantage over the field.

Her round started hot, with four birdies on her opening nine holes, putting the pressure on Cheyenne Knight and Minjee Lee (who were a few groups behind Zhang) right from the start.

Zhang has the composure of a seasoned professional out on the course; the level of poise she holds has been noticed by the fans throughout the week.

“I still think I’m human, so I do feel little small butterflies here and there,” Zhang said. “I’ve been able to tap into my zone, and I’ve just been trying to think about how this is the sport I’ve been playing for the last ten or so years.”

Regardless of the outcome, Zhang is still hoping to “build [her] character more.” Her expectations have been minimal, considering she was expecting “to scramble into the cut” as her “first priority.”

However, her talent speaks for itself, and all eyes, from the media and fans, have been on her.

“It’s incredible…just seeing everyone supporting me and everyone’s reactions to some of my good shots, I just think it’s so funny,” Zhang said. “But I’m really honored, really blessed to have such great support – it’s been really special.”

While Zhang does have a two-shot advantage, several players in the chase are hungry for the win. Aditi Ashok, Knight and Atthaya Thitkul are tied for second at nine-under par. All three have been making appearances on the front page of the leaderboard by the tournament’s end but have not successfully closed out with a victory.

“I feel like every week, 10 or 15 girls play the best golf, but one of them ends up winning,” Ashok said. “I think I really have to shoot a good round [tomorrow, and] I’m just going to stick to my game plan.”

Liberty National hasn't made it easy on players in its ever-changing conditions. The drastic temperature shift forced players to adapt on the spot in terms of club and shot selections.

Knight, who played in the final pairing on Saturday, said the course played a lot tougher today: “The ball is not going as far because it’s cold…and kind of a little bit of a different wind direction today, just slightly, which made some of the holes coming in play a little longer.”

Even with one round left to play, Liberty National isn’t letting up, which forces a foreseeable grueling battle players must fight through to walk away victorious.

And for Zhang, could it be pro win No.1? Well, there are 18 holes left to seal her fate.

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