NCAA champ Zhang becomes 1st LPGA Tour winner in pro debut in 72 years, wins Mizuho in playoff

  • Rose Zhang, center, walks to the fourth hole tee box with Anna Davis, right, Sunday during the final round of the Mizuho Americas Open golf tournament. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Rose Zhang lived up to all the pre-tournament hype as the next great women’s golfer — at least in her first week as a pro.

The two-time NCAA champion became the first player in 72 years to win on the LPGA Tour in her pro debut, capturing the Mizuho Americas Open with a par on the second playoff hole against Jennifer Kupcho on Sunday.


Zhang arrived on the LPGA Tour with the most fanfare since Michelle Wie West in 2005, and she delivered in the shadow of the Big Apple.

“I just can’t believe it,” Zhang said. “It was just last week when I won NCAAs with my teammates, and to turn pro and come out here, it’s just been amazing. I’ve enjoyed the journey.”

The span was actually 13 days.

The last female player to win as a pro in her debut was Beverly Hanson, who edged Babe Zaharias to take the Eastern Open in 1951.

The performance was so impressive it drew the attention of fellow Stanford product Tiger Wood.

“Incredible few weeks for Rose Zhang, defends her NCAA title and then wins in her Pro debut. Go card!” Woods tweeted.

Zhang smiled broadly when told, adding she has not had a chance to look at her phone since the tournament ended.

“My reaction says it all,” said Zhang, who said she did not look at a scoreboard until the 16th hole and did not know her position in the field.

It really never changed. She started in the lead and never lost it.

The victory was worth $412,500.

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