ADVERTISEMENT

Stanford freshman Rose Zhang wins NCAA women’s national golf championship

ADVERTISEMENT

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Rose Zhang has felt the energy, the pressure in the big championships. The Stanford freshman has been successful at every level she has played, overcoming stress to win prestigious amateur events.

So when Zhang had a couple of bad chances at the NCAA Women’s Championship, including a brutal one on the fifth hole, she never let it get to her.

That kind of mental toughness allowed the world’s top-ranked fan to add another title to her resume.

ADVERTISEMENT

Zhang overcame a shaky front nine to shoot a 3-for-75 on Monday, capping his stellar freshman season by becoming Stanford’s second straight NCAA singles champion.

“I thought of it like, ‘Okay, God is testing me, I’m having a little bit of bad luck here, but I have the strength to get through that,'” Zhang said. It allowed me to overcome anything that got in my way.”

Zhang reeled after an early birdie in the final singles round at Grayhawk’s Raptor course, allowing Texas A&M’s Jenny Park to trim a seven-shot lead to three on the 10th hole. Zhang straightened it out with a short birdie on the par-3 13th hole and pushed the lead to five when Park made three bogey putts.

Zhang made two par putts on the par-5 18th hole and celebrated with her teammates on the same green where Rachel Heck became Stanford’s first national champion a year ago. She finished with a six-under 282 to become the 10th freshman to win a national singles title.

Zhang also broke Heck’s NCAA single-season scoring record, finishing at 69.68.

“He has such a strong mindset,” Stanford coach Annie Walker said. “This was not easy, no matter what she looked like. It was a routine. She didn’t hit him like she wanted and was a little out of position. She never let him shake her cage.”

San Jose State’s Natasha Andrea Oon shot 70 in the final round to finish at 3-under 285. Park also shot 70 to tie LSU’s Ingrid Lindblad for third with 287.

“I was really excited to play with the girls that I played with today because obviously they are really great players,” Park said. “I tried to be patient today and focus on what I could do.”

Zhang came to Stanford after a stellar junior career.

The Irvine, California native became the third player to win the McCormack Medal as the world’s best amateur golfer more than once, and was twice the Rolex Junior Player of the Year.

Zhang became the eighth player to win the US Women’s and Junior Women’s Amateur Championship, and the first to win the amateur championship. She also represented the United States at the 2021 Curtis Cup and broke the amateur record in the LPGA Tour specialty then known as ANA Inspiration in 2020.

Zhang’s dominance continued through college. She became the first Stanford player, male or female, to win her first three events and make the All-Pac-12 first team.

Zhang was already committed to Stanford last year when she watched Heck win the national title as a freshman on television. Zhang never thought that she would follow in Heck’s footsteps, but she looked like she would win the title.

She battled through windy conditions to open with a four-under 68 on Grayhawk and followed up with a 70. A 69 in the third round put her seven shots ahead of Oregon’s Tze-Han Lin and Georgia’s Jenny Bae.

Zhang needed the cushion.

He had a birdie on the short par-4 second hole, but his tee shot on the par-3 fifth hole plugged the greenside bunker, causing a double bogey.

“Absolutely brutal, to the bottom of the bunker,” Walker said.

Zhang missed the downwind par-5 seventh when the second shot rolled down a steep slope over the hole and had to bogey 12 feet on the par-4 ninth after his second shot went off the green down a slope. . On the right.

Park took advantage of Zhang’s mistakes, making a birdie on the par-4 sixth and another on a steep slope on the par-3 eighth. He came within three shots after Zhang bogeyed the par-4 10 to drop to 6-under. pair.

Zhang took control again with his birdie on the 13th and closed with three straight pars after three putting the par 4 on the 15th for a bogey.

“I felt like this [birdie] really let me reassure myself that now that I have a birdie under my belt, I can just keep going, keep playing, keep playing,” Zhang said. “I knew it was in me to make a good shot when the time came.”

Their singles title and Brooke Seay’s 135-yard ace at 16 gave Stanford the top seed heading into Tuesday’s team game. Oregon, Texas A&M, UCLA, Auburn, Florida State, San Jose State and Georgia also qualified for the game.

sniloans