How Rose Zhang Went From College To Solheim Cup Stardom In Four Months

The 20-year-old, already a winner on the LPGA Tour, is on quite some upward curve

Rose Zhang
Rose Zhang prepares for battle ahead of the 2023 Solheim Cup in Spain
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rising star Rose Zhang has revealed that being a part of the 2023 Solheim Cup was “certainly not one of the goals” this year. 

Given that the 20-year-old only turned professional in May, it’s hardly a surprising admission. However, in the space of four months, Zhang, who spent 141 weeks on top of the amateur rankings, has already become one of the star names on the LPGA Tour.

After winning on her professional debut, the first player to do so in 72 years, the Stanford sophomore recorded back-to-back top-10 finishes at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and US Women’s Open.

Another top-10 finish followed at the Evian Championship, before she showed that she was human at Walton Heath by finishing down in a tie for 44th place at the AIG Women’s Open.

Her hot run in 2023 has cooled somewhat going into the Solheim Cup at Finca Cortesin, Spain, but US captain Stacy Lewis has seen enough of her talents to convince her that Zhang will be a force in the contest.

Speaking on the eve of the showdown between the USA and Europe, Lewis said: “I think everybody knows Rose's name by now, if you watch women's golf at all, and honestly she was on my radar for 2024, not for this one, but she took care of winning this year, so she was able to qualify. Rose was really a great, great addition for us.”

Zhang’s achievements to date are all the more impressive given that she’s still a college student. Her amateur days are not long behind her, and she will return to her studies later this year after a short leave of absence.

Rose Zhang

Rose Zhang winning on her LPGA Tour debut

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Zhang was the first woman to win two individual NCAA championships for Stanford. She claimed the US Women's Amateur in 2020 and the US Girls' Junior in 2021, before recording a famous victory at the Augusta National Women's Amateur 2023, where she recovered from losing a six-shot lead to win in a playoff.

Two months later came her remarkable victory at the Mizuho Americas Open, where she became the first woman to win on her LPGA debut since Beverly Hanson in 1951.

Then came the comparisons with a certain Tiger Woods, who also played golf at Stanford. Even Woods found himself in awe. “Incredible few weeks for Rose Zhang, defends her NCAA title and then wins in her Pro debut,” he wrote on Twitter.

So, what now for this remarkable talent? It sounds as though there are still plenty of books to read and exams to sit, although at this moment in time her focus is solely on helping her US team to win back the Solheim Cup.

Rose Zhang Solheim Cup

Zhang now has her eyes on Solheim Cup victory 

(Image credit: Getty Images)

“It's been as hectic as ever. I've been extremely busy, and there's certainly a lot more than just professional golf in the tour life,” said Zhang, a former Junior Solheim Cup player.

“You have a lot more obligations. But I've been enjoying the ride, and especially being among the best players in the world, is just so exciting to be a part of them and be able to play this game.”

Zhang might be the youngest rookie in this year’s event, but you can bet she’ll be ready to put points on the board for her team when she’s called upon.

“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,” she added.

Watch out Europe. 

Michael Weston
Contributing editor

Michael has been with Golf Monthly since 2008. As a multimedia journalist, he has also worked for The Football Association, where he created content to support the men's European Championships, The FA Cup, London 2012, and FA Women's Super League. As content editor at Foremost Golf, Michael worked closely with golf's biggest equipment manufacturers, and has developed an in-depth knowledge of this side of the industry. He's now a regular contributor, covering instruction, equipment and feature content. Michael has interviewed many of the game's biggest stars, including six world number ones, and has attended and reported on many Major Championships and Ryder Cups. He's a member of Formby Golf Club.