NAPLES, Fla. – It was around this time last year that Rose Zhang told Stanford coach Anne Walker that she planned to turn pro after her sophomore season. Zhang couldn’t have dreamed then that she’d win on the LPGA in her first professional start, something that hadn’t been done in 72 years.
That dreamy debut at the Mizuho Americans Open put the 20-year-old on a whirlwind path to this week’s CME Group Tour Championship, where she’s one of nine first-timers in the field.
Zhang, 20, went back to Stanford last week after her most recent event in Japan and enjoyed a few days off. She’s yearning for more downtime after a packed year that saw her win the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, the NCAA Championship, and the Mizuho – to name a few – as well as make her first Solheim Cup appearance.
Rose Zhang holds the trophy after winning the 2023 Augusta National Women’s Amateur at Augusta National Golf Club. (Photo: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports)
Next year, however, Zhang plans to play a lighter schedule at the beginning of the season as she goes back to school for the winter quarter. Zhang aims to take five classes, or 22 units, in Palo Alto. She’s just over halfway done with what’s required for her communication degree.
Stanford’s winter quarter begins in January and lasts through March. Zhang said she might play in one or two events on the LPGA during that time.
Zhang heads into her final LPGA event of the season No. 26 in the Rolex Rankings. She’s 18th on the money list with $1,314,794 and ranks fifth in greens in regulation. She has five top-10s, including a victory, in 12 LPGA starts.
Zhang described her half rookie season on the LPGA as “fulfilling.” The biggest lesson learned, she said, is that it’s OK to say no.
“Yes, you have your responsibilities and obligations for media, sponsor outings,” said Zhang, “but ultimately you have to learn how to take care of yourself and your own work, your own craft, and that’s to be playing at your best on the golf course.”