Adam Woodard April 1, 2023 5:10 pm ET
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Rose Zhang has completed the amateur grand slam.
The world’s No. 1 amateur didn’t have her best stuff on Saturday at Augusta National Golf Club but somehow found a way to hold on for the win at the 2023 Augusta National Women’s Amateur despite a serious challenge from Jenny Bae.
Zhang entered the final round with a commanding five-shot lead but struggled early and often during the final round. Stanford’s star sophomore made double bogey on the first hole and sprayed her way around the course before signing for a 4-over 76.
“Being able to play competitively at Augusta National is certainly different from any other venue that I’ve played in. It’s funny because the last four times that I played here, I remember my scores being nowhere near under par,” said Zhang, one of three ANWA four-timers and the only one to make the cut in all four starts. “I really, really do love this golf course. Sometimes it’s just interesting that I never really get my A game when I’m out here. When I was out at (Champions Retreat) it felt so easy to me. Everything just came to me. I was making putts. I was hitting greens. But when you’re out here, one mistake, like I said before, is magnified.”
Those internal struggles opened the door for Bae, who was six shots behind Zhang at the start of the day. The Georgia fifth year was feeling the love from the patrons, and after a three-hour weather delay came out swinging. She made birdies on Nos. 9, 13 and 17 and avoided a bogey down the stretch to force a playoff with Zhang at 9 under.
“I don’t think I’ve ever felt happier on a golf course that much in my life,” Bae said of her clutch birdie on the 17th. “I saw it and I marked it and I hit it. I mean, I’ve never heard such big like yelling on a golf course. It just felt amazing.”
On the first playoff hole, both players found the fairway off the 18th tee, but Bae had the distinct advantage on the green after Zhang’s approach shot caught a slope and failed to reach the back pin. Bae’s birdie came up short and Zhang was able to lag putt her first and save par to extend the playoff to its second hole, No. 10.
Both players once again found the fairway off the tee, but this time it was Zhang with the advantage on the green after Bae blew her approach way to the left underneath a tree in the pine straw. It took two shots for Bae to find the green, and when it was Zhang’s turn to play, she hit the pin with her putt and tapped in for par and the win.
“I felt confident. But I think I just tugged it a little bit, and it went past the green into the bushes in the back,” said Bae of her approach. “I mean, I tried, but Rose, she had a fantastic day. Hat’s off to her.”
Zhang previously won the 2020 U.S. Women’s Amateur, 2021 U.S. Girls’ Junior and 2022 NCAA individual national championship, and her win down Magnolia Lane will cement her legacy as one of, if not the, best amateur golfers of all time.