Rose Zhang’s Saturday started out fairly slow. She wasn’t hitting the ball exactly where she wanted to, that is, until the fourth hole.
“I had 150 left and I didn’t even see it go in,” said Zhang of her hole-out on the par 4 for eagle. The shot shifted the momentum of Zhang’s day.
A third-round 68 moved Zhang, the 2020 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion, into a share of seventh at 8 under, four shots back of leaders Brooke Henderson and Nelly Korda.
A record-tying five amateurs made the cut this week. Gabriela Ruffels, the 2019 Women’s Amateur champ who lost to Zhang in the finals this year, shot 71 despite carding two double-bogeys on the day. The USC senior is tied for 14th.
LEADERBOARD: ANA Inspiration
Michelle Wie (2004) and Caroline Keggi (1988) hold the record of best finish by an amateur: fourth place.
Zhang, 17, qualified for this event two years ago by winning ANA Junior Inspiration. She tied for 60th in the major that year.
After winning the U.S. Amateur in early August, the Stanford commit triumphed by six at the AJGA Rolex Girls’ Invitational two weeks later.
Tonight she plans to do some homework and watch YouTube.
“Yeah, since I’m still a senior in high school and I’m still taking online classes, I’m going to have to catch up on a lot of work,” said Zhang of what comes next.
For Ruffels, this is somewhat of a home tournament given that she lives 20 minutes away. The members at her local course, Toscana Country Club in Indian Wells, are cheering her on from afar.
Gabriela Ruffels during the third round of the 2020 ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills Golf Club. (Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports)
“Kind of struggled in the middle,” said Ruffels of those doubles, “but I knew if I could stay steady and finish strong, I’d be doing OK. It’s just fun to be out here. I’m having so much fun.”
Ruffels, 20, had a comfortable pairing on Saturday playing alongside fellow Aussie Katherine Kirk.
“She’s got a ton of talent and she’s a sweet kid, too,” said Kirk.
“Nice to play with a young gun and to see that she has a lovely personality, too.”
Stanford’s Lei Ye dropped into a share of 62nd after a 76. Wake Forest’s Emilia Migliaccio (75) sits at T-68 while Olivia Mehaffey (77) is in 74th.