Rose Zhang is first to win back-to-back NCAA Women’s Golf Championships

May 24, 2023, 10:49 p.m.

Sophomore Rose Zhang won her second individual NCAA Women’s Golf Championship on Monday. Zhang became the first woman to win multiple — and consecutive — national titles, and she tied the NCAA record for season wins. At the Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., Zhang shot a near-flawless 4-under par 68, winning the four-round tournament by one stroke over USC’s Catherine Park and San Jose State’s Lucia Lopez-Ortega.

In the final round, Zhang did not card a single bogey. Along the way, she displayed the exemplary swing plane and tempo, consistency, putting stroke and course management that have helped place her among the best women’s amateurs ever to hold a golf club.

The day had its share of drama. The round began with Park at 10-under par, two ahead of Lopez-Ortega and four ahead of Zhang. After the seventh hole, however, Zhang had narrowed the gap to one, birdieing holes 4, 6 and 7 to put her at -9. The birdie stretch was highlighted by Zhang’s approach to within six inches on the par-4 6th and her wedge to within four feet on the par-5 7th. In the meantime, Lopez-Ortega, beginning her round on the 10th hole, shot one under par on her opening nine to tie Zhang.

On the second nine, Zhang edged ahead while her opponents faltered. After birdieing the par-4 12th to reach -11, Park bogeyed two of her next four holes as her lack of speed control on the greens yielded two three-putts. As Park was struggling, Zhang birdied the par-5 No. 11, sinking a tricky downhill left-to-right putt to do so. Zhang was now 10-under par, one stroke in front of Park. At nearly the same time, Lopez-Ortega pulled even with Zhang by birdieing the par-3 5th (her 14th hole of the day). But the tie was short-lived. Lopez-Ortega managed to save par on hole No. 6 but then bogeyed the par-5 7th after an errant drive. She bogeyed the next hole by blasting her birdie putt five feet by the hole and missing the come-backer. Lopez-Ortega was now at -8, one stroke behind Park and two behind Zhang.

Thereafter, Zhang continued to play the steady, positional golf that is her trademark. She repeatedly hit her drives with pinpoint accuracy — Zhang missed only one fairway the entire round — and her adroit lag putting resulted in many no-stress pars. Zhang encountered some difficulty on the par-4 17th when she hit her approach over the green and faced a slick downhiller. But, she deftly chipped the ball to within two feet for her par.

As she approached the tee on the par-5 18th, Zhang was 10-under par, one stroke clear of both Park and Lopez-Ortega. Park nearly had tied the score, missing a short birdie putt on No. 18. Lopez-Ortega birdied her final hole, putting her at -9 as well.

But Zhang methodically shut the door. Needing only a par, she hit a near-perfect drive into the fairway, and with Cardinal coach Anne Walker’s guidance, Zhang chose to lay up from 199 yards, hit a wedge to the green and then two putt for the easy par and the Championship.

In just two years on The Farm, Zhang occupies a rarefied place in Stanford’s rich golf tradition. Her 12 career wins (in 20 events) set a new Cardinal golf record, eclipsing the 11 wins of Tiger Woods (26 events), Patrick Rogers (35 events) and Maverick McNealy (45 events). Zhang’s victory was the eighth in 10 events this season, tying her with Lorena Ochoa and Renee Heiken for the most single-season women’s collegiate golf wins and tying Tiger Woods for the most single-season wins in Stanford golf history. Zhang’s 12th career win tied Ochoa for the most in PAC-12 women’s golf. On Tuesday, Zhang was named the winner of the prestigious Anika Award, presented annually to the top female U.S. collegiate golfer. Zhang, who also won the award last year, became Stanford’s third consecutive winner, a streak junior Rachel Heck began in 2021.

In addition to Zhang, other Cardinal players shined brightly at Grayhawk. Junior Sadie Englemann posted her second 3-under 69 of the week to finish at 5-under par, tied for 10th place. Englemann earned her seventh top-10 finish in 11 events this season. Freshman Megha Ganne (1-under par) and Kelly Xu (even-par) both finished in the top 30, placing tied for 21st and tied for 28th.

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