Rose Zhang won her LPGA debut on Sunday, just 13 days after the Stanford golfer won her second NCAA title.
The 20-year-old, who became the first to win back-to-back NCAA women’s golf titles, followed up her historic sophomore season by becoming the first player in 72 years to win in her LPGA Tour professional debut. She did so at the Mizuho Americas Open, defeating Jennifer Kupcho in a playoff.
“I just can’t believe it,” Zhang said of the triumphant beginning to her much-anticipated pro career. “It was just last week when I won NCAAs with my teammates, and to turn pro and come out here, it’s just been amazing. I’ve enjoyed the journey.”
Beverly Hanson was the last woman to win in her pro debut, taking the Eastern Open title in 1951.
The performance from Zhang even drew the attention of fellow Stanford golfer Tiger Woods. Zhang tied his Stanford record for wins in a career (12), which had been held by Woods and three other golfers.
“Incredible few weeks for Rose Zhang, defends her NCAA title and then wins in her Pro debut. Go Card!” he wrote.
Incredible few weeks for Rose Zhang, defends her NCAA title and then wins in her Pro debut. Go card!— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) June 5, 2023
Incredible few weeks for Rose Zhang, defends her NCAA title and then wins in her Pro debut. Go card!
If you ask Zhang, who led from start to finish, there weren’t a lot of expectations to begin the tournament.
“I honestly didn’t expect to make the cut,” Zhang said. “The reason why I say this is because I don’t think about my expectations a lot. I think about playing golf and shooting the best score I can. I never once think about where I finish, where I should finish. … The expectation for me winning did not even cross my mind. I was just playing my game.”