Leaving the NCAA Championships at Grayhawk Golf Club last summer, it seemed all but certain that Rose Zhang would turn pro. Her freshman season was one for the record books, and it ended with a pair of NCAA titles (individual and team) and legendary status in her wake.
But while the golf world expected the phenom to take her talents to the pros, Zhang had other plans.
A few weeks later at the U.S. Women’s Open, the 19-year-old made a stunning announcement — she would be preserving her amateur status and returning to Stanford for another season.
“It’s always been the plan — I’ve always wanted to stay at least a couple years before I decide anything,” Zhang said at the time. “Another year won’t hurt anyone. I’m really excited to see and experience more things at Stanford.”
Zhang has picked up right where she left off in year No. 2 in Palo Alto. Midway through the spring season, she’s already registered five individual victories, bumping her collegiate career total to nine. That win total ties her atop the Stanford record books with LPGA pro Andrea Lee — and there’s little reason to doubt she’ll soon surpass that number.
Now cruising to what is almost assuredly a second-straight Annika Award, Zhang has added another accolade to her impressive resume. With this week’s World Amateur Golf Ranking update, the sophomore has officially surpassed Lydia Ko’s record for most consecutive weeks at No. 1. Zhang has now been the top-ranked amateur in the world for 131 consecutive weeks, the longest streak across both the men’s and women’s rankings.
If she can hold onto the No. 1 ranking for five more weeks, Zhang will also surpass Leona Maguire for most total weeks at No. 1 with 136 weeks.
With the Augusta National Women’s Amateur coming up in just a few weeks, Zhang will have yet another opportunity to add some hardware to her trophy room. She famously led the tournament deep into the final round two years ago before an Amen Corner triple bogey dashed her hopes.
“It would be absolutely amazing,” she said of the possibility of redeeming herself at Augusta. “Just playing in [the ANWA] is part of history. To have your name on the trophy would just be even more amazing.”
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