In a much-anticipated move, Rose Zhang, the two-time NCAA Women’s Golf Individual Champion and long-time World Amateur No. 1, announced Friday that she was turning pro.
The Stanford sophomore will make his pro debut next week at the inaugural Mizuho Americas Open at Liberty National Golf Club. Zhang, who turned 20 on Wednesday, announced her move on Instagram. She will hold a press conference in Jersey City, NJ, next Tuesday, according to her agent, Kevin Hopkins, of Excel Sports Management.
Zhang’s pro debut will be one of the most anticipated in women’s professional golf history. Zhang made the cut in the 2019 US Women’s Open as a 16-year-old, won the 2020 US Amateur and tied for 11th at the 2020 ANA Inspiration, an LPGA major. She could have turned pro then, but chose to enroll at Stanford. While most expected her to play collegiate golf for just one season, she instead spent two years at the Cardinal.
Those two seasons produced a historic series. Zhang won 12 of 20 college tournaments and won 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 most wins in women’s Pac-12 golf history.
Zhang won both the 2022 and 2023 women’s individual national championships and led Stanford to the 2022 national team title. She has also won the U.S. Women’s Amateur, the U.S. Girls Junior, and the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
All told, Zhang has been ranked #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 them all, perhaps Zhang’s most shocking achievement is her college 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 rounds finished as a collegiate tie or better. She shot 31 shots in the 60s. In addition to her 12 wins, she posted six other top 10s.
It has long been speculated that while playing as an amateur, Zhang essentially translated to being a top-15 or top-20 player in the world. There’s no exact benchmark for that, but Zhang is expected to compete in the professional ranks immediately.
Her coaches often say that it is not one aspect of Zhang’s game that stands out the most – driving, ball attacks, short play – but the whole of her parts and her decision-making.
What is Zhang’s influence on women’s professional golf?
Zhang has previously made significant name, image and likeness deals while in college and will be entering the pro ranks with massive sponsorship already in place. She has seven-figure deals with Callaway, Adidas and others.
Zhang’s amateur career has always been a point of fascination among golf fans. She will turn heads early and often like a pro.
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, Zhang will play in the next two months in the US Women’s Open at Pebble Beach (June 22-25), the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in Baltusrol (July 6-9), the Dana Open (July 13-16) and the Evian Championship (July 27-30).
(Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)