Rose Zhang Makes Historic Pro Debut, Wins LPGA's Mizuho Americas Open

Photo: Instagram/Rose Zhang

Rose Zhang, the highly anticipated next star in women's golf, made a stunning debut as a professional player by winning the Mizuho Americas Open on the LPGA Tour.

In a gripping playoff against Jennifer Kupcho, Zhang secured victory with a par on the second playoff hole. This achievement marked the first time in 72 years that a player had won on the LPGA Tour in their pro debut. The 20-year-old Zhang, who arrived on the tour with immense fanfare, lived up to the expectations in the vibrant atmosphere of Jersey City, New Jersey.

Expressing her disbelief, Zhang stated that just a week ago, she had won the NCAA championship with her teammates, and the transition to turning pro and succeeding in her first tournament had been an incredible journey for her. Interestingly, the time span between her college victory and professional triumph was actually 13 days.

Photo: Instagram/Rose Zhang

The last player to achieve a pro debut victory was Beverly Hanson in 1951, defeating Babe Zaharias in the Eastern Open. Zhang's exceptional performance garnered attention from golfing legend Tiger Woods, who commended her remarkable achievement of defending her NCAA title and winning in her first tournament as a pro.

Zhang, beaming with joy upon hearing Woods' praise, mentioned that she hadn't had a chance to check her phone since the tournament ended, emphasizing her focus on the game throughout. Consistently leading the field, Zhang maintained her position at the top from the beginning and never relinquished it.

Hae Ran Ryu from South Korea secured third place at 8-under, while Aditi Ashok (India), Ayaka Furue (Japan), and Eun-Hee Ji (South Korea) tied for fourth at 7-under. Ashleigh Buhai (South Africa), Leona Maguire (Ireland), and Yuka Saso (Japan) finished at 6-under, three shots behind the leaders.

In the final round, Zhang shot a 2-over 74 and missed an 8-foot par putt that could have secured her victory in regulation play.

However, she redeemed herself with a nearly identical 8-footer on the first playoff hole. Kupcho, who had a final-round 69, also made par. The second playoff hole saw Zhang's precise approach from the fairway, leaving her with a short putt for the win after Kupcho's challenges.

Overwhelmed with emotion, Zhang celebrated her triumph as players joined her in the celebration, presenting her with red roses, reminiscent of her win at the Augusta National Women's Amateur. The victory not only earned Zhang a prize of $412,500 but also granted her automatic LPGA Tour membership, which she gladly accepted.

Despite her remarkable achievement, Zhang decided to skip the upcoming event near Atlantic City, New Jersey, taking some time to savor her momentous debut victory before continuing her promising career on the LPGA Tour.

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Source: ESPN

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