World No. 1 amateur golfer and two-time NCAA champion Rose Zhang turns pro

In a long-awaited decision, Rose Zhang, two-time NCAA women’s golf individual champion and longtime world No. 1 amateur, announced Friday that she is turning professional.

The second from Stanford will make his professional debut at the inaugural Mizuho Americas Open at Liberty National Golf Club next week. Zhang, who turned 20 on Wednesday, announced her move on Instagram. She will hold a press conference next Tuesday in Jersey City, NJ, according to her agent, Kevin Hopkins, of Excel Sports Management.

Zhang’s professional debut will be one of the most anticipated in women’s professional golf history. Zhang made the cut at the 2019 US Women’s Open as a 16-year-old, won the 2020 US Amateur and tied for 11th at the 2020 ANA Inspiration, an LPGA major. She could have turned pro at the time, but chose to enroll at Stanford. While most expected her to play just one season of college golf, she instead spent two years with the Cardinal.

These two seasons produced a historic race. Zhang has won 12 of 20 college tournaments, winning at an unprecedented rate. She broke Tiger Woods’ school record for total wins while playing six fewer tournaments. She also tied Lorena Ochoa for the most wins in Pac-12 women’s golf history.

Zhang won the 2022 and 2023 National Women’s Individual Championships and led Stanford to the 2022 National Tag Team title. She also won the US Women’s Amateur, US Girls Junior and Augusta National Women’s Amateur.

Overall, Zhang has been ranked No. 1 in the world amateur golf rankings since September 2020, a record.

How good is Zhang?

The accolades are too numerous to list, but of them all, perhaps Zhang’s most shocking achievement is his college grading record.

As a freshman, the then 18-year-old set the NCAA single-season record of 69.68 in 31 rounds played.

Then, as a sophomore, she broke that record, shaving almost a full stroke (0.98) off her previous total and setting a new mark of 68.70 in 27 rounds.

A total of 50 of Zhang’s 58 rounds as a middle schooler ended at par or better. She fired 31 shots in the 60s. In addition to her 12 wins, she posted six other top 10s.

It has long been speculated that, while playing as an amateur, Zhang essentially translated himself into one of the top 15 or 20 players in the world. There is no exact metric for this, but Zhang is expected to compete in the professional ranks immediately.

His coaches often say it’s not one area of ​​Zhang’s game that stands out the most — driving, ball-striking, short game — but rather all of his games and his decision-making.

What is Zhang’s impact on women’s professional golf?

Having already signed major name, image and likeness deals while in college, Zhang will enter the professional ranks with massive sponsorships already in place. She has seven-figure contracts with Callaway, Adidas and others.

Zhang’s amateur career has always fascinated golf fans. She will attract attention early and often as a professional.

This summer, she is expected to play in all five major tournaments and, if all goes according to plan, use a series of tournament exemptions to secure her LPGA Tour card.

After the Mizuho Americas, over the next two months, Zhang will compete at the US Women’s Open at Pebble Beach (June 22-25), the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Baltusrol (July 6-9), the Dana Open ( from 13 to 16) and the Evian Championship (27-30 July).

(Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Leave a Comment