JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Rose Zhang lived as much as all of the pretournament hype as the subsequent nice girls’s golfer — at the very least in her first week as a professional.
The 2-time NCAA champion grew to become the primary participant in 72 years to win on the LPGA Tour in her professional debut, capturing the Mizuho Americas Open with a par on the second playoff gap in opposition to Jennifer Kupcho on Sunday.
Zhang arrived on the LPGA Tour with essentially the most fanfare since Michelle Wie West in 2005 and delivered within the shadow of the Massive Apple.
“I simply cannot imagine it,” Zhang mentioned. “It was simply final week once I gained NCAAs with my teammates, and to show professional and are available out right here, it is simply been wonderful. I’ve loved the journey.”
The span was really 13 days.
The final lady to win as a professional in her debut was Beverly Hanson, who edged Babe Zaharias to take the Jap Open in 1951.
Zhang’s efficiency was so spectacular it drew the eye of fellow Stanford product Tiger Wood.
“Unbelievable few weeks for Rose Zhang, defends her NCAA title after which wins in her Professional debut. Go card!” Woods tweeted.
Zhang smiled broadly when instructed, including she had not had an opportunity to take a look at her cellphone for the reason that match ended.
“My response says all of it,” mentioned Zhang, who added she didn’t take a look at a scoreboard till the sixteenth gap and didn’t know her place within the discipline.
It actually by no means modified. She began within the lead and by no means misplaced it.
South Korean rookie Hae Ran Ryu (70) was third at 8 below. Aditi Ashok of India, Ayaka Furue of Japan and Eun-Hee Ji of South Korea had been at 7 below. Ashleigh Buhai of South Africa, Leona Maguire of Eire and Yuka Saso of Japan completed at 6 below, 3 shot behind the leaders.
Zhang shot a 2-over 74 within the remaining spherical and squandered an opportunity to win in regulation when she missed an 8-foot par putt after making at the very least a half-dozen clutch saves in a gritty final-round efficiency.
The much-heralded 20-year-old from Stanford made a virtually equivalent 8-footer on No. 18 at Liberty Nationwide on the primary playoff gap. Kupcho, who gained an NCAA title at Wake Forest in 2018 and had a final-round 69, additionally made a par.
Each gamers hit the green on No. 18 on the second playoff gap, however Zhang hit her method from the green inside 10 ft. Kupcho was quick on her method, her first putt went simply over the again fringe of the inexperienced and the second putt simply missed. That left Zhang with two putts for the win.
Whereas disenchanted to lose, Kupcho was comfortable together with her efficiency.
“On this grass I am all the time the most effective,” Kupcho mentioned. “We’re beginning to hit in this sort of grass going ahead, so I am excited to see the place the season goes.”
Zhang held her face in disbelief after the successful putt fell as gamers celebrated together with her by giving her pink roses, just like when she gained the Augusta Nationwide Girls’s Newbie.
Zhang, who was enjoying on a sponsor exemption, didn’t have a birdie in her remaining spherical and completed at 9-under 279.
She turned professional final week after the NCAAs, and far was anticipated straight away. Zhang was the top-ranked girls’s novice for 141 weeks and gained each massive girls’s novice occasion — the U.S. Girls’s Newbie, the U.S. Junior Women, the NCAAs and the Augusta Nationwide Girls’s Newbie.
Sunday’s victory was price $412,500, and it additionally earned Zhang an automated LPGA Tour membership, which she accepted — though she is skipping subsequent week’s occasion close to Atlantic Metropolis, New Jersey.