Rose Zhang. You may be asking “Who is Rose Zhang?”.
Trust us, you likely won’t soon forget.
A standout freshman at Stanford University, Zhang’s college career is already outdoing what Tiger Woods did when at Palo Alto:
- won her first three collegiate events (Woods won his first two)
- first collegiate round was +1, next eight were under par (69.11 scoring average)
As the world’s top women’s amateur player at age 18, other astounding facts include:
- Winner of 2020 Women’s Amateur and 2021 U.S. Girls Junior Amateur
- First to ever win the Amateur before the Junior Amateur
- Low amateur at the 2020 ANA Invitational
A divine career start, surely leading to LPGA success in a few year’s time as it is doubtful that Ms. Zhang goes the “Stewart Hagestad Route” (he of the plus-6 handicap), and remains a “career amateur”.
It does beg the question what, if any, prodigious amateurs in recent times have had the ultimate success on golf’s grandest stages.
Let’s just say the list is shorter than the putt Retief Goosen missed to cause the 2001 US Open playoff.
- PGA Tour: 10 times (Frank Stranahan - four wins), last was Phil Mickelson in 1991
- LPGA Tour: 6 times, most recently by Lydia Ko in 2012 and 2013
- European Tour: 3 times, most recently by a beardless Shane Lowry in 2009
- Men’s Majors: 14 times (7 by one guy, somebody named Bobby Jones)
- Women’s Majors: Twice (most recent ever, Catherine Lacoste 1967 Women’s US Open)
These wins are as rare as rocking horse shit folks.
Only two amateurs have even finished top 5 in men’s majors since 1972 (Rose - 1998, Wood - 2008), whereas women’s amateur success has been more prominent with a number of runner-up finishes since Lacoste’s triumph.
While these amateur wins didn’t result in a Scrooge McDuck-esque payday, there was a fleeting moment when they could thumb their noses at the pros letting them know who Numero Uno was, even if only for a week.