Rose Zhang Impresses With Under Par Round In Pro Debut

The 20-year-old produced an assured performance in the opening round of the LPGA Tour's Mizuho Americas Open

Rose Zhang hits a tee shot during the opening round of the 2023 Mizuho Americas Open
Rose Zhang was impressive in her opening round as a pro in the Mizuho Americas Open
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rose Zhang could barely have got off to a better start in her professional career in the opening round of the LPGA Tour's Mizuho Americas Open.

The 20-year-old only turned professional last week following a record-breaking amateur career that finished with 141 consecutive weeks at the top of the World Amateur Golf Ranking.

If the American was nervous about starting a new chapter, it didn’t show as she picked up where her amateur career left off. After a par at the first, she followed that up with her first birdie as a pro just two holes in. 

Two more birdies followed on the fifth and sixth before her first bogey on the ninth. However, she steadied herself with three pars, followed by her fourth birdie of the day courtesy of a brilliant chip-in on the 13th.

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Bogeys on the 14th and 15th saw her temporarily drop to T15, but another birdie on the par 4 18th saw her head to the clubhouse at T5 on two-under, five adrift of early leader Lauren Hartlage.  

Much has been made of the potential for Zhang to have a stellar career, and her amateur record more than backs that up. As well as her incredible run of weeks at the top of the world rankings, she also has a string of other achievements. 

Among them was a US Women’s Open appearance in 2019 aged 16. The year after, she tied for 11th in the Chevron Championship. Also in 2020, she won the US Women’s Amateur. More recently, in April, she won the Augusta National Women’s Amateur in a dramatic playoff over Jenny Bae.

Rose Zhang receives the trophy from Fred Ridley after her win in the 2023 Augusta National Women's Amateur

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The host of this week’s event is, fittingly, a player who also showed incredible promise early in her career. Michelle Wie-West, who has largely stepped away from playing nowadays, knows a thing or two about high expectations, having turned professional aged 15.

Before the tournament, she said she was confident Zhang would take matters in her stride, saying: “I think she’s going to do great. I think she’s going to transition great. She played the US Open, a couple big events. I always know that debut week is always nerve-wracking. I very vividly remember mine. Didn’t turn out the way I hoped so; hopefully go better for her this week. Yeah, I think she’s going to do great. I think she is a rock star, and I cannot wait to see what she does on tour.”

Given Zhang’s performance in the opening round at Liberty National in New Jersey, there's evidence to suggest Wie-West's judgment will be proved correct.

Zhang, who has experienced caddie Jason Gilroyed on the bag for the tournament, will go into the second round knowing she has little to fear, even among a world-class field. Afterwards, she said: “It was amazing. It felt pretty regular throughout the round once I got into the zone. Jason was by my side. He gave me great yardages, and we just had a great time.

“But the anticipation was for sure there. I feel like there has been a lot of things happening the last couple days and last couple weeks, so for me to come out here and just try to stay composed, I feel like I did a pretty good job at it. Tried my best out there.”

If the start to Zhang’s professional career has been impressive, the promise of more to come seems assured as she grows increasingly accustomed to her new status.

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Mike Hall

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.