Rose Zhang won her professional debut on the LPGA Tour at the Mizuho Americas Open, becoming the first player since Beverly Hanson in 1951 to do so. Zhang fought to a 2-over 74, holding off charges from Eun-Hee Ji, Aditi Ashok, and Jennifer Kupcho. Starting the day with a two-shot lead, Zhang opened with three pars to stay one ahead of Ashok. Kupcho grabbed a birdie on the par-5, 10th to move into a tie for the lead at 10-under, but a bogey on the par-4, 12th erased that effort. Zhang parred 17 and her drive on 18 barely found the fairway bunker, making for a tricky second shot under immense pressure. She left her approach short of the green and her chip checked up a little too early, finishing 8 feet short of the hole, leaving Zhang a testy par putt for the win.
For the first time since Beverly Hanson in 1951, Rose Zhang has emerged victorious in her professional debut on the LPGA Tour, winning the Mizuho Americas Open in a playoff over Jennifer Kupcho. The 20-year-old fought to a 2-over 74, making one bogey and 17 pars on Sunday to capture her first LPGA Tour title and hold off charges from Eun-Hee Ji, Aditi Ashok and Kupcho.
Starting the day with a two-shot lead at 11-under, Zhang opened with three pars in her first three holes to stay one ahead of Ashok, who moved to 10-under with a birdie on the par-3, 2nd hole. Ashok bogeyed No. 4 to once again sit two shots back of the lead, but Zhang also dropped a shot on the same hole, now one ahead with 14 holes to play. An Ashok birdie on the 6th hole moved her back to 10-under and into a share of the lead with Zhang; however, major champions Eun-Hee Ji and Kupcho were also making moves, with Ji carding three consecutive birdies on holes 4, 5 and 6 and Kupcho holing out on 7 to both get to 10-under and make it a four-way tie at the top. All three would ultimately fall away with Ji bogeying the 8th hole and Ashok and Kupcho bogeying the ninth to drop to 9-under, giving Zhang a one-shot lead with nine holes to play.
Kupcho grabbed a birdie on the par-5, 10th to again move into a tie for the lead at 10-under, but a bogey on the par-4, 12th hole erased that effort and Kupcho parred in for a final-round, 3-under 69 to post the clubhouse lead at 9-under. Ashok took herself out of the conversation with three bogeys on the back, clearing the way for Zhang to slam the door shut on her first victory as a professional, but she would have to work for it on the closing holes of Liberty National Golf Club. Her best opportunity to extend the lead came at the short, par-4 16th hole, where she pitched her second shot close and missed the birdie putt, remaining at 10-under with two to play.
Zhang parred 17 and her drive on 18 barely found the fairway bunker, making for a tricky second shot under immense pressure. She left her approach short of the green and her chip checked up a little too early, finishing 8 feet short of the hole, leaving Zhang a testy par putt for the win. Zhang’s par try slid off to the right and she tapped in for bogey, sending the 20-year-old into a playoff with three-time LPGA Tour winner Kupcho.
Hitting first, Kupcho’s drive found the fescue on the right of the 18th fairway and Zhang followed the lead, hitting her tee shot in the right fairway bunker. However, Zhang hit a remarkable second shot to the green, leaving her with a 15-foot birdie putt, while Kupcho’s approach shot fell short of the green. Kupcho’s chip shot left her with a 20-foot par putt, which she missed, giving Zhang the chance to win with her birdie putt. Zhang calmly rolled in the putt to claim her first professional victory.
Zhang, who is currently a student at Stanford University, has been making waves in the amateur golf scene for years. She won the 2020 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship and was a member of the victorious U.S. team at the 2021 Curtis Cup. Her win at the Mizuho Americas Open marks a successful start to her professional career and shows that she has the talent and composure to compete at the highest level.
With her win, Zhang has earned a spot in the upcoming U.S. Women’s Open, which will be held at The Olympic Club in San Francisco. She will also receive a two-year exemption on the LPGA Tour, giving her the opportunity to compete against the best players in the world on a regular basis.
To bring the matter to a close, Zhang’s victory at the Mizuho Americas Open is a significant achievement and a sign of great things to come for the young golfer. She has proven that she has the skills, mental toughness, and competitive drive to succeed at the highest level of professional golf, and fans around the world will be watching closely to see what she accomplishes next.