NCAA champ Rose Zhang makes impressive LPGA Tour debut in Mizuho Americas Open

Rose Zhang hits off the second tee during the first round of the Mizuho Americas Open golf tournament, Thursday at Liberty National Golf Course. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Two-time NCAA champion Rose Zhang made her professional debut Thursday on the LPGA Tour, a solid opening round in the Mizuho Americas Open.

The 20-year-old from Stanford who dominated the women’s amateur rankings for more than two years shot a 2-under 70 at Liberty National in the shadow of New York. The Californian was five shots off the lead held by Lauren Hartlage, who shot a career-best 65.


Aditi Ashok, the first player from India on the tour, was at 67 in a tournament where the focus shifted to Zhang last weekend with her announcement she was turning pro.

Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand and Stephanie Meadow of Northern Ireland had 68s.

Ayaka Furue, coming off a loss to Pajaree Anannarukarn on Sunday in final of the match play event in Las Vegas, was at 69 with Lydia Ko, Brooke Henderson, Emma Talley, Cheyenne Knight, Grace Kim and Yuka Saso.

Zhang didn’t dominate in her first round as a pro but she showed enough, making five birdies and three bogeys on a day her putter didn’t help her. She hit fairways and greens in a round on a course that features a par 3 played with the Statue of Liberty staring golfers in the face.

There were also some shots that were great. On the par-5 13th, she chipped in from 29 yards, coming from below the hole and having the ball cross the length of the green before falling in the hole.

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