Stanford University commit Rose Zhang (Irvine, California) is two-strokes back from the lead following a 4-under par 68 on Thursday.
“First day went pretty well. The first few holes were a good start. I think the first seven holes I had no pars, so it was quite eventful,” said Zhang. “I think I hung in there especially being in the final group of the morning wave we have to play in the wind and we will have the same thing tomorrow.”
While the 17-year-old is still in class for her last high school semester, Zhang has been busy the last month with competitive golf. She competed in the season-opening event, Carlisle Arizona Women’s Golf Classic, and forced a playoff with six-time Symetra Tour Champion Ruixin Liu, finishing second.. This week she comes off a start at the LPGA Tour’s LOTTE Championship and the week prior she competed at her second Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
“My second ANWA was such a great experience. I had so much fun being insides the ropes. Making the cut and playing in the final group was definitely a plus but the overall experience itself was surreal and I realized a lot about my game,” said Zhang.
“The scores were very low (at the LOTTE Championship). Everyone was playing spectacular, and it was just a getable course where everyone had chances for birdies for every single hole. I think I played pretty well there were some things I knew I needed to work on, but I got a lot of inspiration from the pros in terms of how they prepared and their mental game. I got to play with Sei Young Kim in the third round and just watching her play well, have mental toughness and the ability to handle crowds is something a champion would do, like what Sei Young would always do. I really was inspired by how she handles herself on the course.”
Zhang has found success throughout her amateur career. She currently ranks No. 1 in both the Rolex American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) Rankings and the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR). Most recently, Zhang claimed the 2020 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship defeating defending champion and now professional Gabriela Ruffels (Melbourne, Australia).
Ruixin Liu (-4, T3) on how the course is playing compared to when she visited:
“It felt like the greens were a little slower today, so the course played a lot easier than when I visited. I think that is a good thing though because when I was here last time it was really tough, and I didn’t expect to shoot under par. Today I figured the greens are really slow so that gives me more room to do a birdie putt and be more aggressive.”
Regina Plasencia (-4, T3) on playing early on day one:
“It was a really nice round today. I felt comfortable on the greens and was able to capitalize on some good shots out there. We were the second group out so it's always nice to get fresh greens and almost no wind.”
Samantha Wagner (-3, T6) on getting her season moving:
“Feels pretty solid. I was really happy with how I finished last week (T16) especially after my first round. It was a good start to my season and I am feeling really good about how my game is going and how I played today. I played a practice round on Tuesday and was going to play nine yesterday, but when the wind was gusting I said, ‘no I am not doing it.’ I didn’t want to have bad vibes in my head. I just practiced and went over the course in my head and think that was a better game plan.”