CASARES, Spain — At just 20 years old, Rose Zhang has accomplished more in her golf career than most players could ever dream of, let alone achieve.
At 16 she made the cut at the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open. The next year she beat defending champion Gabi Ruffels to win the 2020 U.S. Women’s Amateur, and then claimed the 2021 U.S. Girls’ Junior the following year. She won the Mark H. McCormack Medal after spending three consecutive years atop the world amateur golf ranking (2020, 2021, 2022) and then became the first player to ever win the NCAA individual title twice, doing so in consecutive seasons in 2021 and 2022. And don’t forget the 2022 Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
Just weeks after claiming the NCAA title she became the first player to win her LPGA debut since 1951, earning her LPGA card in one start. For Zhang, making history is like making par.
Zhang continues to set the bar even higher for herself each step she takes in her career, and this week is yet another opportunity for her to make the challenging look effortless. The 20-year-old will be one of five American rookies to tee it up at the 2023 Solheim Cup at Finca Cortesin on Spain’s southern coast after she automatically qualified due to her world ranking, and it’s an opportunity she isn’t taking lightly.
“It’s so hard to rank every single one of the accomplishments. I feel like every experience that I’ve gained has been so unique in its own right. This is definitely up there,” she said in a press conference on Wednesday. “Being able to play the Solheim Cup is truly a dream come true. I’ve played two Junior Solheim Cups before, one in Des Moines and one in Gleneagles. But I watched and witnessed all these professional players represent Europe and the U.S. on that first tee, but that was the experience and adrenaline that I’ve seen before and to be a part of it now is really cool.”
SOLHEIM CUP: Photos
“Honestly (Rose) was on my radar for 2024, not for this one,” admitted U.S. captain Stacy Lewis, “but she took care of winning this year, so she was able to qualify. Rose was really a great, great addition for us.”
Rose Zhang of Team USA plays a shot during practice prior to the Solheim Cup at Finca Cortesin Golf Club on September 20, 2023 in Casares, Spain. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Zhang left Stanford after a stellar two years in college golf and was still taking classes when she won her professional LPGA debut at the Mizuho Americas Open in June.
“So I am currently on a leave of absence (from Stanford). I decided not to torture myself in fall quarter,” she said with her signature smile. Zhang plans to return to her schoolwork in January during the winter quarter, where she’ll be furthering her Communication studies, as well as her blossoming career.
Imagine being the top rising star in the world of golf and still choosing to not only further your education, but to do so at a place as demanding as Stanford. It speaks to her character both on and off the course.
The Irvine, California, native is the ultimate team player. Her game is nearly flawless and she meshes with any group, making her a weapon for an American side that will need some firepower against arguably the best European team ever assembled (or so says European captain Suzann Petersen). Despite her ability and match-play prowess, Zhang isn’t sweating her role for the team.
“I think whatever my place, whatever I should do is for the team, regardless of how much I’m playing, I’m going to be fighting out there every single event or every single match that I participate in,” said the always humble Zhang. “So no hard feelings there. I feel like I love being on the sidelines cheering for my teammates, if that’s what I’m going to do. That’s basically what being part of a team is.”
It sounds too good to be true, right? With Zhang, it’s just simply who she is.