By Hailey Hernandez/ Wed 29 Mar 2023 19:14 EDT
The 2023 Augusta National Women’s Amateur began on Wednesday with 72 of the world’s top amateur golfers competing in Augusta, Ga. World No. 1 Rose Zhang carded a bogey-free six-under 66 to set a new 18-hole Championship record and claim the first-round lead.
“I’m super honored; I’ve seen the golf course pretty often the last couple years,” said Zhang. “So I kind of know for the most part what I’m going to get out here. But I think it’s just the level of grinding and the mindset that I have that allows me to know that, even if I don’t have my best game, especially the last couple years, certain mishaps have popped up. So with that in mind, I’m just kind of taking everything in my stride and allowing myself to, you know, if I do make mistakes, I can come back. So that really helps my mindset today.”
The Stanford sophomore moved into a share of the lead after recording her fifth birdie of the day and took the outright lead with a birdie on her final hole. Zhang birdied two of the par-3s and each of the four par-5s on the course, including a 50-foot putt at the 14th.
“Par-5 scoring is very important for a good round,” Zhang said. “For me to be able to do that and capitalize on every par-5, I think it shows my game is in a pretty consistent, good direction. Hopefully I can continue like that the next couple days.”
The second round will continue Thursday at Champions Retreat, with live coverage on Golf Channel from 1:30-3:30 p.m. ET. Following the completion of the second round, a cut will be made with the top 30 players and ties advancing to Saturday’s final round at Augusta National Golf Club. All participants will play a practice round at Augusta National, the home of the Masters Tournament, on Friday. NBC will broadcast three hours of live final-round coverage from noon – 3:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 1.
Sweden’s Andrea Lignell sits one stroke back of Zhang at five-under 67. At No. 30 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), she started her round with back-to-back birdies at the third and fourth holes before tallying three consecutive birdies on Nos. 9-11.
The University of Mississippi senior, who has two wins and six top-five finishes this season, also had a bogey-free start in her Championship debut.
“I did not expect a bogey-free round today,” Lignell said. “There’s a lot of tough holes out there where you can easily be okay walking off with a bogey. So I definitely did not expect it, but I’m really happy.”
The University of Georgia’s Jenny Bae is in third at three-under 69, while San Jose State’s Antonia Malate, University of Illinois’ Crystal Wang and University of Kentucky’s Jensen Castle, are tied for fourth place at two-under 70.
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