Rose Zhang seeking to follow win in her pro debut with a major at the Women’s PGA Championship

NJ, June 22 (BNA): After her stunning win in women’s golf by winning her first event as a professional, Rose Chang will try to take the next big step when she goes for her first major win at the Women’s PGA Championship in Baltusrol.

It’s only been a month since preparing the 20-year-old from California, who many thought would be the next celebrity in her sport, similar to when Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa got back together on their two-year stint ending in 2010.

Zhang went from winning her second straight NCAA singles title to turning professional and then living up to all the hype by winning the Mizuho US Open earlier this month. It made her the first LPGA Tour winner in her professional debut in 72 years, the Associated Press reports.

What followed was a whirlwind of national television appearances, phone and in-person interviews, endorsement offers and then a return to Stanford for a week of school and finals, including a tough computer science exam where all you wanted was a passing score. She passed.

After a rest at home and a little work on her game, Zhang was back in action on Thursday, when she slammed into a field of all 11 LPGA Tour winners this year at her second major in women’s golf.

While this may scare some, not Zhang. Going up to the microphone on Wednesday, she had a wide smile on her face. When questions followed, she was personable, unassuming, thoughtful, calm, and a breath of fresh air for any athlete.

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“Biggest adjustment,” Chang said, “I will say I haven’t been able to work on my game as much as I’ve ever been able to as an amateur.” “There are a lot of commitments you have to take on as a professional. You have a lot of press interviews and conferences, and that takes a lot out of you and a lot of your time and energy. So, I haven’t been able to grind like I usually do.”

Zhang’s grinding was going off scale and smashing balls for four hours. She hasn’t done that recently because she was tired after a long college season and then went into the pro ranks. This week is all the more accurate for a fourth women’s event in New Jersey in seven weeks.

Other than dealing with the demands in her time, Zhang believes she hasn’t changed much. She attributes this to her family and friends, who have not changed their approach to her.

Socially, she’s getting more tweets, including one from Warriors guard Steph Curry, one of her role models growing up. I left her speechless.

Golf is something she handles easily, and winning her first event boosts her confidence as she prepares for her first major as a pro.

“It was just a validation for me to say, hey, I can compete at the highest level, and as long as I do what I need to do, and as long as I perform as best as I can, I will be able to compete week in and week out.”

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World No. 1 Jin Young-koo and fellow 2023 multi-award winner Lilia Fu are leading South Korea, who won the first chevron tournament this year out of five.

USA Solheim Cup captain Stacey Lewis said Zhang should be considered for the 12-man squad that heads to Spain to face Europe in September.

“I had her on my radar more than that for 2024 because I knew it was going to be hard for her to win because that was the only way she would have a chance to play in 2023 if by winning it,” Lewis said. “So I’ve been following her, and obviously now we’re following things closely. But like everybody else, she can still earn her spot.”

The Solheim Cup is usually played every two years, but will be shifted to even-numbered years next year so as not to conflict with the Ryder Cup.

Defending champion In Gee Chun had a hard time getting into Baltusrol’s locker room on Wednesday.

The 28-year-old South Korean put her LPGA identification badge in her bag on Tuesday night and took her caddy when they got to the course.

“I’m trying to get into the dressing room, and the security guy said you can’t go in there,” Chun said. “I showed them another clip—(money), and she said, ‘You need an extra credit card.’ But I sure am a gamer.”

Chun said another person in the changing room came out and recognized her.

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“Oh, she is the title holder, so she can enter. Come on,” Chun said with a slight smile.

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