No. 1 amateur, Stanford commit Rose Zhang begins busy summer with chance at USGA history at U.S. Girls’ Junior

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

CHEVY CHASE, Maryland — LeBron James loves playing in Madison Square Garden. Rafael Nadal is the “King of Clay” in tennis. Tiger Woods dominated at Firestone. And Bay Hill. And Torrey Pines. You get the picture.

After defeating defending champion Gabriella Ruffels in 38 holes to win the U.S. Women’s Amateur last summer at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Maryland, you’d think Rose Zhang would be riding the good vibes seven miles down the road this week at Columbia Country Club for the U.S. Girls’ Junior.

“I never thought about it,” said Zhang, “but now people tell me I’m like, ‘Oh, yeah, Maryland’s great.’”

When you’re as successful as Zhang has been at just 18 years old, it must be easier to remember where you haven’t played well compared to where you have. The incoming Stanford freshman is currently the No. 1 women’s amateur golfer in the world, finished T-11 in the 2020 ANA Inspiration, won the Rolex Girls Junior Championship, the Ping Invitational and the Rolex Tournament of Champions. Oh yeah, don’t forget her T-3 at this year’s Augusta National Women’s Amateur.

U.S. Girls’ Junior: Tee times and players to watch

With a resume like that and her title defense at the U.S. Women’s Amateur quickly approaching, what’s Zhang doing at a junior event?

“It’s my last U.S. Girls and it’s going to be the last chance that I can play with the juniors,” explained Zhang. “I haven’t been given a lot of opportunities to play this event, since it’s always conflicting with another event. So playing this one is definitely very special.”

If Zhang is able to win this week, she’ll become the eighth player to win both the U.S. Women’s Amateur and the U.S. Girls’ Junior. Not only that, it will be the first time a player has won them in that order.

“After my win at the Women’s Am, there’s definitely a lot more attention and you really have to control your emotions,” Zhang said of being thrust into the spotlight over the past year. “So I think for me, it’s just being able to do what I need to do on the course and at the same time, be able to mature and handle myself in different social situations. I think it’s definitely a great experience.”

If she’s enjoying this, just wait until you see her schedule for the rest of the summer. Zhang will wrap play at the U.S. Girls’ Junior this week then head to France for her debut in the Amundi Evian Championship, July 22-25. After playing in her fourth LPGA major championship, Zhang will return to the states to defend the U.S. Women’s Amateur at Westchester Country Club in Rye, New York, Aug. 2-8. She’ll then skip back across the pond for the AIG Women’s Open at Carnoustie, Aug. 19-22. She also expects to play in the Curtis Cup, Aug. 26-28, at Conwy Golf Club in North Wales.

Still think you have a busy summer?

In terms of time management, Zhang is proud of the work she’s been able to do to keep her daily routine as normal as possible. On top of that, she’s worked on her mental game, too.

“I think I’ve managed to be able to take my mental game to the next level. I can’t always expect to play the best, but that’s one thing that I really need to control,” explained Zhang. “I always strove for perfection and when you play professional events you just can’t do that because you’re playing with 200 other women who are just as amazing. I think just being able to handle that would be ideal for me.”