Rose Zhang Set to Make Major Debut as Professional at Baltusrol
There doesn’t seem to be a challenge in the game of golf that’s too big for Rose Zhang.
The amateur standout wasted no time finding success in the professional ranks, making history with her win in her professional debut at the Mizuho Americas Open. Zhang earned a sponsor's exemption into the field and made the most of it, converting the opportunity into a victory and automatic membership on the LPGA Tour. What Zhang achieved at Liberty National Golf Club had only been achieved once before in the history of the LPGA Tour, by Bevery Hanson, 51 years prior.
“The expectation for me winning did not even cross my mind. I was just playing my game,” Zhang said after her victory. “I was having a good time out there. This is the game that I love, and I'm so thankful to be a professional doing it now.”
Zhang may not have had any expectations of winning but expectations will be high as she makes her professional debut in a Major at the KPMG Womens’ PGA Championship at Baltusrol where she received a sponsor exemption into the field. There, Zhang will have a chance to make history yet again.
Anna Nordqvist was the last player on the LPGA Tour to win the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in not just her first major start but in her first start on the LPGA Tour. That was in 2009, and something Zhang won’t be able to match. But, she could become the first player since Nordqvist to win her debut at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and join a short list of just five rookies who have won the major in their first season on the LPGA Tour.
Like many of the recent rookies who are just beginning their careers in the professional ranks, Zhang is already a tried and true champion. She’s had success at the highest levels of the amateur game - winning the U.S. Women’s Amateur, the NCAA Division I title in back-to-back years, and capturing the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and Junior PGA Championship, to name a few of her countless accolades. Zhang leaned on those experiences in her win at the Mizuho Americas Open and she will no doubt do the same when she arrives at Baltusrol.
“I feel like I've been in very high-caliber events. Played in USGA events, major championships as an amateur, so there has been a lot of media slowly elevating throughout the years, but I have just been trying to take it in my own stride,” said Zhang about the attention she’s received. “I found out that at the end of the day I'm still playing my own golf ball and it's important to take care of that first. So with that in mind, I've only been thinking about that.”
And, of course, she’s coming into Baltusrol fresh off her maiden professional win. And this will be far from the first time that she competes in a major as she has 10 prior starts in the big events. Her best finish in the majors came at the Chevron Championship where she finished T11 in 2020.
Zhang has found success on the biggest stages in amateur golf, and wasted no time bringing that same game to the professional ranks. To this point in her career, no challenge has been too big for Zhang. Next up? The majors.