Zhang still feels like a 'rookie,' even if she doesn't play like one

Zhang still feels like a 'rookie,' even if she doesn't play like one

By Jeff Babineau

Rose Zhang, who won her very first start as a professional last summer (Mizuho Americas Open, at Liberty National), knows a thing or two about moving the needle, so you listen when she offers her take on what Nelly Korda has been accomplishing of late on the LPGA.

“It's so hard to win once out here, let alone five times back-to-back,” Zhang said on Wednesday after her pro-am round at the J.M. Eagle L.A. Championship presented by Plastpro. “I think it's been very inspiring for not only me, but a lot of other players.

“It's just her being able to be herself when she's out there and her being able to commit to what she's doing with her team around her, and that's really kind of what I saw when she was out there performing. She was having a good time and also very into the game, very competitive, not letting anything sidetrack her.”

Zhang, 20, is an impressive multi-tasker. She played in the LPGA’s 2024 season opener (Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions) this season in Orlando in January – she tied for seventh – then took two months off from tour golf, using the time to concentrate on her studies as she works toward earning a degree at Stanford University.

So finally, she is starting to build a rhythm into her season, but she said she still feels like a rookie in many ways. At many events (last week’s Chevron Championship being an example), she is seeing golf courses for the first time. She played Wilshire Country Club once in a Monday qualifier, but has yet to play a tournament here.

“Game has been feeling interesting,” she said, having missed the cut last week. “I think that I've had a very fulfilling journey thus far. I've been learning a lot. There has been a lot of ups and downs and some weeks are not as consistent as others, but I think these growing pains are really good. I've been taking it I guess one by one.

“I think that it's always – even if you feel like you're taking a step back, you'll be able to take two steps forward afterwards once you kind of learn and navigate yourself around. Been really thankful for the entire process and looking forward to, I guess, working a little bit harder and honing in on things that I might need to work on.”

Zhang draws inspiration where she can, and there’s been plenty of it watching Korda perform at such a high level. Zhang hopes that she climb such heights one day, too.

“I find that very admirable, so really props to her,” Zhang said. “It's kind of an honor to see that happen, especially in my lifetime now. And also just the game of golf. She's really growing the women's game exponentially.”

Just as Zhang will do, given a little more time.

April 24, 2024
Back to News