Summer 2024

Stanford star Rose Zhang wins in LPGA debut: 'I'm doing it for the glory of God'

Rose Zhang didn’t put any specific expectations on herself as she made her LPGA Tour debut at the Mizuho Americas Open. One of the most accomplished amateur players ever, the two-time national champion and U.S. Women’s Amateur champion claims she didn’t even think she’d make the cut.

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Then Zhang shot a 6-under 66 at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey, on Saturday and found herself with a two-shot lead heading into the final round. She forced a playoff with a 2-over 74 in Sunday’s final around and beat Jennifer Kupcho on the second hole to become the first player since 1951 to win on the LPGA Tour in their professional debut.

The victory comes just 13 days after she won her second consecutive NCAA national title.

“I’m so blessed. I feel like I’ve been given this platform to try to do the best that I can, be an influence to younger generations, and that’s all I think about,” Zhang said Sunday. “I don’t think about the stats of, ‘Hey, in 10 starts, I’m going to have my first LPGA Tour win, or it’s my first time, I should be winning.'”

In her two years at Stanford, Zhang won 12 of the 20 tournaments she participated in. That is one more than Tiger Woods won, and he played in 26 events. She is also the only woman to win back-to-back individual Division I national titles.

Asked in Sunday’s press conference what her biggest motivator was, the 20-year-old talked about having her identity rooted in faith rather than golf.

“Going into college, I really wanted to have an identity outside of golf because sometimes as an athlete, it kind of takes a toll on you if you think that golf is your whole world,” she said. “For me, I realized that being Christian is very much my identity.”

Zhang went on to discuss how having that perspective on her sport gives her a sense of freedom on the course.

“That allows me to go out there and realize that I’m just a vessel just trying to do her own thing, and I’m doing it for the glory of God,” she said.

Zhang grew up in a Christian home and used her time at Stanford to dive deeper into her faith. She joined a church group and got baptized last June.

 

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Most of her Instagram posts include the hashtag “#allglorytogod,” and Romans 12:2 is listed in her bio. The verse says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Zhang announced after the tournament she is accepting the immediate LGPA Tour membership that comes with the win and will play the rest of the season. She made the decision to turn pro May 26 after the NCAA championship.

 

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Yet as Zhang receives more and more attention, she remains driven by her faith rather than fame and fortune.

“Always working to become better as a child of God is something that I’ve been trying to work on and that I will continue to work on throughout my whole life, but that’s kind of my driving force,” she said. “Just to be faithful, be thankful and I guess be a good presence to those around me.”

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