Emma Hruby | Just Women’s Sports
Rose Zhang’s star continues to rise in the LPGA, as she followed up her winning professional debut with a top-10 finish at her first pro major at the Women’s PGA Championship.
The 20-year-old American finished tied for eighth place behind a final-round charge at Baltusrol Golf Club in New Jersey. She shot a 67 on Sunday to finish at five under par, three shots back of the lead.
“I would say I’m content with the result. I’m not content with how I played,” Zhang said. “From the beginning of the week, I feel like there’s always room to work on things, and I’m really satisfied with my overall performance, but there’s little mistakes that I made that you just can’t really afford to make.
“I felt really confident with my putter the whole day, and the last couple days I feel like that really saved me this entire week. But the last couple holes, putts fell a little short, they lipped out a little bit.”
Ruoning Yin won the title at eight under par, becoming just the second woman from China to win a major championship. She beat Japan’s Yuka Saso by one stroke, birdying the final hole to join Shanshan Feng in Chinese golf history. Feng won 10 times on the LPGA Tour, though her only major win came at the PGA Championship in 2012.
“I would say she’s definitely the goal that I’m chasing,” Yin said of Feng. “But I think she is the person who inspired me the most.”
For Zhang, who just made the jump from college (where she won back-to-back national titles), the difficulty of the court stood out as the main difference from her past competitions.
“I feel like it’s still golf, so I still felt the same energy as any other event except this is major week, and the golf course is a lot harder,” she said. “It’s playing a lot more difficult. You have to be on your toes at all times. Losing a little bit of focus causes you to have errors, and that’s just something you can’t afford at a major championship.
“But I think that was the different part, was just making sure that you’re still in the moment and you’re still hitting it shot by shot, regardless of what the result is.”
Zhang climbed to within one shot of the lead Sunday before a few mistakes on the back nine sunk her shot at victory. But she still recorded her best-ever finish at a major (she played in several as an amateur), which she called “pretty special.”
“It’s definitely a different dynamic when you’re a professional versus an amateur,” she said. “And when you’re playing your game, you really have to be precise with your numbers, really understand what your swing is doing, and there is no room for error. Therefore, I’m excited to keep working on my game.”