The last two weeks have been a whirlwind for Rose Zhang as she won back-to-back NCAA individual titles 11 days ago. Now she has made LPGA history by defeating Jennifer Kupcho in a two-hole playoff to win in her pro debut.
72 years ago, Beverly Hanson became the last woman to win a professional golf tournament on the first try — now Zhang adds her name to the record books, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
In her first professional start, Rose Zhang wins at @MizuhoLPGA in Jersey City.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 5, 2023
Zhang is the 1st player to win an LPGA event while making their professional debut since Beverly Hanson at the 1951 Eastern Open. pic.twitter.com/6tAatCL6N4
With this victory, she earns full time status on the LPGA Tour and becomes eligible for the Solheim Cup.
Zhang started the tournament with a 70, putting her right into contention. On Day 2, she shot a 69 which kept her on the first page of the leaderboard. Zhang fired off a bogey-free 66 on moving day to take the solo lead by two shots.
Sunday was an up-and-down day for her positing a 74, her highest score of the week, but Zhang just kept grinding. Nothing phased her, and she made a crucial 10-foot par save on the 17th to keep her one-shot lead. An unfortunate bogey on the 72nd hole put her in a playoff with Kupcho, who shot a final round 69 to finish at 9-under.
Both women made par putts on the first playoff hole on 18.
The second playoff was on the 18th again, and this time. Zhang’s second shot was incredible, rolling to inside seven feet for birdie.
Kupcho had 63 feet for birdie but rolled it off the green. That mistake cost her the tournament. Zhang two-putted the seven-footer for par and captured her first LPGA victory.
She did the impossible and won in her first LPGA start.
Zhang accomplished something Tiger Woods couldn’t as he finished T60 in his PGA Tour debut. She previously broke Tiger’s Stanford record with 12 victories. Zhang continues to add to her story and writes her name on another page in the history books.