Rose Zhang Collects Top 10 Finish at First Major as a Professional
Rose Zhang fell short of capturing her first major championship as a pro, but all-in-all, her week at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship is one she’ll savor for a long time.
Zhang, who finished at 5 under for the week, finished tied for eighth. While she had played eight majors while as an amateur, her week at Baltusrol Golf Club marked her debut at a major as a pro – and her first start at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
A top-10 finish? She’ll absolutely take it.
“It's been incredible. I felt so much support and love from the crowds out here. It's really cool that I was here in New Jersey at Mizuho the last couple weeks, and now I'm here at my first major,” Zhang said. “Safe to say it's super special, and I took it all in for sure.”
Zhang, who won her debut as a pro at the Mizuho Americas Open, shot a final-round 67. She was in the mix Sunday and had a solid shot at claiming the title until her tee shot on the par-5 18th found the water.
Women’s golf newest star said things were “definitely very tense” on Sunday as she could feel the energy from the crowds (of note, it sounds like her fan group could either be called the “Rose Buds” or the “Zhang Gang.” Her teammates at Stanford go with Zhang Gang, and they were arguing they were the original squad. The Rose Buds were named after her LPGA Tour victory) who were trying to will her across the finish line.
“It was just a really fun experience to be in the hunt, especially at my first major,” Zhang said. “I've been in position before as an amateur, but this week was pretty special for a little new career start.”
Zhang said there was a big difference this week versus her pro debut at the Mizuho Americas Open. She admitted that week was “surreal” as she had just come from the NCAA Championship and was making her first start as a pro. It was more of a “trial run,” she said.
Although she would, of course, go on to win the whole thing.
“Even this week I didn't have any sort of expectations on myself, but at the same time, I wanted to see where my game ended up with the professionals and to really see if I was able to be in contention on a good day, on a bad day, et cetera,” Zhang explained. “It's really cool to see that my game is there, and I just have to work a little extra harder to play better.”
Zhang opened the week with a 1-under 70 before shooting a 3-over 74 in the second round. She had a tidy weekend, firing rounds of 68-67 to finish at 5-under 279.
She said she was satisfied with her result Sunday but wasn’t overly thrilled with how she played. Zhang admitted earlier in the week she hadn’t had the time to practice and prepare as much as she would have liked with the firestorm of life-as-a-professional-golfer things she needed to do after her big win. Still, she was happy to be right there until the end and is eager to capitalize on her momentum from this week into the next major championship on the LPGA Tour schedule – in just two weeks at Pebble Beach.
“I learned a lot,” Zhang said. “It's definitely a different dynamic when you're a professional versus an amateur, and when you're playing your game, you really have to be precise with your numbers, really understand what your swing is doing, and there is no room for error.
“Therefore, I'm excited to keep working on my game and make sure that it's pristine when I go to the U.S. Women's Open at Pebble.”