Who is Rose Zhang? Everything you need to know about Team USA’s new star
Zhang has played well at the Solheim Cup and at the age of 20 this golf star is just getting started.
In her debut LPGA Tour season, Rose Zhang remarkably contested 12 major championships, securing top-10 finishes in three. This week, she steps onto one of her grandest stages, representing the U.S. against Europe at the Solheim Cup, starting Friday at Finca Cortesin.
Following her professional debut on May 26, Zhang achieved a historic milestone by becoming the first woman since Beverly Hanson in 1951 to win in her pro debut at the Mizuho American Open in Jersey City, New Jersey, on June 4. This victory secured her an LPGA Tour card, granting her eligibility for the Solheim Cup. The American achieved all that while just turning 20.
Zhang bested a stacked field that included seven of the world’s top 10 players at the Jersey City course, earning $412,500 in prize money and a total of more than five million so far this year.
This accomplishment places Zhang ahead of golfing legends such as Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa, Nancy Lopez, Lydia Ko, and even Tiger Woods, all of whom required more starts to claim their maiden victories.
Zhang and Woods comparisons
Even prior to her breakthrough, Zhang had already established herself as a prominent figure in the world of golf. Her remarkable achievements on the amateur circuit were widely recognized, as she spent an unprecedented 141 weeks as the top-ranked amateur golfer in the world. Notably, she claimed victory in prestigious tournaments such as the US Women’s Amateur in 2020, the US Girls’ Junior in 2021, and the Augusta National Women’s Amateur in April.
At Stanford University, Zhang’s performance was equally impressive. With an astonishing 12 victories in just 20 starts, she surpassed even Tiger Woods’ exceptional record of 11 wins in 26 starts during his time with the Cardinal. Zhang’s achievements made her the first woman to secure multiple individual national college championships.
Moreover, thanks to recent changes in regulations allowing college athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness, Zhang has garnered an impressive portfolio of sponsors. Recognized brands such as Adidas, Beats by Dre, Callaway, Delta, and Rolex have eagerly aligned themselves with Zhang’s career.
Zhang bridging the gap between women’s and men’s golf
Zhang, who plans to remain enrolled at Stanford and complete her degree while she plays on the pro circuit, has accepted LPGA membership following her recent victory. This momentous achievement catapulted her from the 482nd position to the 62nd spot in the world rankings. With her next tournaments scheduled at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Baltusrol and the US Women’s Open at Pebble Beach, Zhang has a chance to leave her mark on these prestigious events. Furthermore, her impressive performances make her a strong contender for a spot at the Paris Olympics next year.
The women’s tour has become increasingly competitive, but it has lacked crossover stars who can elevate TV rights fees and tournament earnings, hindering its progress in the crowded US market. However, Zhang possesses a captivating blend of talent, humility, and charisma that has the potential to revitalize the LPGA and bridge the growing gap in prize money compared to the men’s tour. So far, Zhang has proven to be a shining example of these qualities, providing a promising outlook for the future of women’s golf.
“I want to continue trying to carve a path for young kids to just follow your dreams,” said Zhang. “I’m so thankful that the young kids enjoy me, enjoy my golf, and I’m just so thankful for the support. So I will continue to do what I’m doing. I’ll continue to fight. I’ll continue to work hard. Hopefully, everyone can follow along.”