Rose Zhang follows up Women’s Amateur title while hitting an AJGA trifecta

By Julie Williams | August 22, 2020 9:00 am, When the golf is good, it’s good, and Rose Zhang’s game is strong right now. The 17-year-old backed up the U.S. Women’s Amateur title she won barely two weeks ago with another major accolade on Friday, winning the AJGA Rolex Girls’ Invitational.

As the story goes, Zhang almost didn’t even enter the Women’s Am earlier this month because of a wrist injury that flared up from over-practicing. She took nearly the whole week off in between the two tournaments to rest, but still nearly withdrew from the Rolex Girls’ after the third round, she said. The perseverance paid off.

“It’s good to take a break now and then,” she said of trying to rest the injury. “It’s not the best way to take a break but it has helped me clear my mindset a little bit.”

At the Rolex Girls, no other player got within six shots of Zhang, who fired rounds of 64-70-72-67 at Dalhousie Golf Club in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. She finished the week at 15 under, ahead of runners-up Leila Raines and Bohyun Park.

Scores: Rolex Girls’ Invitational

“On this course, it’s really rewarding for solid ballstrikers and when you get it close enough, if you’re a good putter, the course is all yours,” Zhang said.

Zhang coupled that with course management to pull away. She often feels that a layout requiring placement gives her the best chance of success.

Zhang’s win is particularly significant considering that it puts her in an elite category. Zhang now holds all three Rolex honors in the same AJGA season with her victory at the 2019 Rolex Tournament of Champions, 2019 Rolex Junior Player of the Year and 2020 Rolex Girls Junior Championship.

“I don’t think my head has wrapped around it yet,” she said. “Rolex is such a great sponsor, especially for junior golf and women’s golf. Just to be able to play these events is such an honor, let along win it. I’m super grateful.”

In her U.S. Women’s Amateur run at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Maryland, Zhang was the only junior among the eight quarterfinalists. She romped through a bracket of college talent, knocking off Power 5 players like Gabi Ruffels, Alyaa Abdulghany and Kaleigh Telfer, plus future Stanford teammate Rachel Heck, on the way to the title.

The regal Robert Cox trophy, the one she wins with the Women’s Am title, hasn’t shipped yet, and consequently Zhang isn’t quite sure where it will live for the next year.

Despite being a newly minted USGA champion, Zhang said she didn’t feel that different teeing it up this week at Dalhousie. There was just a lot of congratulating.

“I’m definitely proud of what I did at the U.S. Women’s Am,” she said. “It just gave me more confidence and freedom to keep playing well coming into this event. It’s very tiring coming back after a week of rest. For sure, it was another tester for this event.”

On the horizon for Zhang is next month’s ANA Inspiration, an LPGA major.

“That’s just another test to my game and I’m just going to try to see how well I can manage with these amazing pros.”

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