Rose Zhang Plans To Balance Golf And Studies As She Prepares For Women's Open

The 20-year-old left Stanford to turn pro earlier this year but wants to complete her studies alongside her fledgling career

Rose Zhang of the USA addresses a press conference ahead of the AIG Women's Open at Walton Heath Golf Club
Zhang will be returning to Stanford to complete her studies later this year
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rose Zhang may be set to compete in her fourth Major as a professional at the AIG Women’s Open but the young American revealed she still wants to balance her golf with her studies and plans to return to college later this year.

After a stellar amateur career, Zhang announced her intentions to turn professional in May, making headlines again just weeks later when she became the first woman in 72 years to win on her LPGA Tour debut with a playoff victory at the Mizuho Americas Open.

But despite her meteoric rise in the professional game, Zhang still intends to see out the rest of her Stanford education, having turned pro midway through her communications degree. 

“In the winter I’ll be going back to the beautiful campus and seeing my friends and being in that environment of going to class and hanging out with the team,” she said at a pre-tournament press conference on Tuesday. 

“I’ll be stacking up classes in the winter quarter. Potentially taking some classes in the spring quarter, and then continuing on to continue playing golf and playing on Tour.”

Such is the talent and prowess of Zhang that the 20-year-old arrives at Walton Heath having never played in England before but amongst the favourites to triumph. With three consecutive top-ten finishes in her first Majors as a pro, it’s easy to see why. 

“I know that Major championships are weighed very heavily, and very much, so these are weeks that all players want to play well in,” she added. 

“But treating it as a regular event and treating yourself as just a player going out on a difficult golf course and learning how to navigate the conditions and how the course is playing, is very important for any player to be successful during that week. 

“So there's a lot of pressure. There's a lot of mental toughness that you have to go through, and just learning how to be aware of that allows you to play well.”

Rose Zhang hits a shot with an iron

Zhang has recorded three successive top-ten finishes in her first three Majors as a professional

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Last year’s Women’s Open at Muirfield saw the American capture the Smyth Salver for the low-amateur score with a T28 finish. But while her experiences at Gleneagles and Carnoustie may have prepared her for the rigours of Major championship golf, Walton Heath - with its heather and inland location - represents somewhat of a different challenge this week.

“I knew that Walton Heath when I first came here, and when I first heard about it, it wasn't really a links-style golf course,” Zhang said when asked about the course. 

“The heather is beautiful but it's terrible to be in. Not somewhere you want to be this week. And I will say that I believe the course is beautiful. It's playing a little bit softer just because there's so much rain.

“I think if the golf course continues to be wet, there's bound to be really good players who are going to score low.”

Zhang gets underway alongside defending champion, Ashleigh Buhai and two-time Major champion, Brooke Henderson. 

Ben Fleming

Ben joined Golf Monthly having completed his NCTJ in multimedia sports journalism at News Associates, London. He has covered a variety of sports and has also worked as a freelance journalist for The Independent and Stats Perform. An avid, albeit distinctly average golfer, he is a member of Nevill Golf Club. One of his best golfing moment was winning a 100/1 bet on Seamus Power and Thomas Detry to finish first and second at the 2022 Bermuda Championship.