Mizuho is an instant classic — Rose Zhang makes professional debut — Must-click women’s golf links
The IX: Golf Thursday with Addie Parker, June 1, 2023
Happy Golf Thursday, Happy Pride Month, and special happy retirement wishes to my mom!!! June 1, 2023, is a busy little day in my life but I get to spend the first part of it with you beautiful people. So let’s jump straight into business.
Well, I knew a decision on Rose Zhang’s future would come soon after the natty and she totally mic-dropped us. After celebrating another accolade in her amateur career and her birthday, the newly turned 20-year-old announced on Instagram that she would be making her professional debut at this week’s Mizuho Americas Open at Liberty National on a sponsor invite.
There’s so much circulating about Zhang — therefore our links are looking quite plentiful. There’s one piece in particular that stands out among the rest and easily became my favorite piece of journalism this year. Brendan Quinn of The Athletic did a feature story on Zhang, he walked with her across campus, talked to her brother and teammates to capture the true essence of Rose, and eloquently described just how magnificent she is. It’s a must-read.
Each link offers a different bit of insight into who she is as a player, which I juxtaposed with hearing directly from Zhang in Five at The IX, so please be sure to scroll through each! I truly could go on about Rose for days (and eventually I will), but I want to ensure that we vehemently discuss Mizuho and all the glory of Liberty National.
First of all, I’m having major FOMO about not being in New York right now (I’m prioritizing being a good daughter over being a good writer), so all the skyline views I’m seeing across my timelines are making me quite jealous.
There’s a buzz in the air, and it’s bigger than the usual excitement that surrounds summertime in the city. Mizuho being an inaugural event, hosted by Michelle Wie West, at Liberty National with Manhattan as the backdrop is adding up to near picture-perfect storytelling. And then you add in the addition of the top-24 players from the AJGA, all paired up with tour players to learn from and bond with as part of a big sister/little sister program facilitated by Wie West.
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“At the pairings party we matched them up, every junior with their pro,” said Wie West. “They exchanged phone numbers and are playing a practice round today and having a meal today. Those exchanges of phone numbers are everything because moving forward if they have a question they can text each other. I remember the first time I got Meg Mallon’s phone number … just being able to have access to such a great player.”
The amateurs will play together for the first two rounds in between the two waves of LPGA players. Over the weekend, they’ll be paired with the pros.
Liberty National was once a putrid, industrial wasteland with a wicked history, including being an oil refinery and Italian internment camp. The land was bought and underwent development in 1992 by Bob Cupp and World Golf Hall of Famer Tom Kite. And though the sites are picturesque, this isn’t a walk in the park for these players. It’s a daunting 6,656-yard, par-72 test with nearly 100 bunkers scattered across the course, and 13 holes include water as a potential threat.
Liberty National has hosted the 2017 Presidents Cup, FedEx Cup playoffs, and several AJGA championships, but this is the first time that the LPGA has held an event at the iconic venue.
Live TV coverage begins on the Golf Channel today at 11 am ET.
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This week in women’s golf
If you have links you wish to share for Golf Thursday, sources for golf news, or want to talk about anything at all, you can email me at email@example.com ! Discussion of any kind is always welcome…I mean it…MESSAGE ME!
LPGA News (expect a lot of Rose Zhang…sorry not sorry!!!)
Epson Tour News
The Epson Tour debuted its first episode of a mini-series following players on their “Road to the LPGA” . The episode is called “Mind Over Matter” and features Linnea Strom and Gabby Then.
Amateur golf is mourning the loss of Rose Zhang, while simultaneously celebrating her debut as a professional. The college game’s greatest bids farewell to her amateur career.
If you didn’t love her before, you’ll love her after this: The world is ready for Rose Zhang. Is she ready for the world?
(Editor’s addition: don’t miss this piece on a college golfer who shot 276 in one round. It’s my favorite read this year.)
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Five at The IX: Rose Zhang talks NCAAs, Michelle Wie West, and graduation
ROSE ZHANG: Safe to say that the last 48 hours have been incredibly chaotic. I’m enjoying every moment and everyone has been treating me so well and gotten me through the ropes of professional golf a little bit.
I’ve just been really thankful to be out here, be on this platform. This is something that I dreamed of since I was a little girl, so I’m here now and it’s been incredible.
Q. When you were thinking about making your professional debut, which I’m sure has been on your mind, why the Mizuho Americas Open? What called you to make your debut at this event?
ROSE ZHANG: There were so many reasons. First of all the timing. After NCAAs last week I was able to just figure things out a little bit in terms of my schedule and what I wanted to do going forward after my sophomore year at Stanford, and the Mizuho was a perfect place for me to kind of start out my professional debut.
At the same time, it’s such a special event and this is the first time I think that the AJGA and the LPGA are together playing the same course. Being at Liberty National there is a lot of history here.
So there were so many factors that made me want to come out here and start my pro debut.
Q. Have to ask, was Michelle Wie West some of those factors? She was in here talking and said some very nice things about you. What is your relationship like and did that have any influence on your decision to play this week?
ROSE ZHANG: 100%. Michelle, her being a Stanford alum, she’s talked to me before. Been a great mentor for me and a good role model about what to do, what she did in her professional career, as well as being at Stanford.
She was actually one of the main influences for me to turn professional while going to school at Stanford. So in the following years I’ll still be at school finishing my degree, and she played a huge part in helping me with that decision because she’s done it before and she said you could definitely do it. That gave me the confidence to try it and see what it would bring forth for me.
But Michelle is just incredible. She’s been an incredible name for the game of golf, women’s golf, and she’s just an exciting person to be around.
So we definitely have bonded a little bit in previous events, and I couldn’t be more thankful to have her guidance in things.
Q. How much do you look up to a player like Michelle? Obviously big factor being here. How much do you look up to her and want to emulate her as you go on this journey?
ROSE ZHANG: Yeah, I do feel like a lot of people — every person is different. She’s got a different career path, as I do, so in terms of emulation I don’t really think about it as that.
But she is — she has such a similar path or experience to what I have right now. She turned pro at a very early age and she was at Stanford. Was able to finish her degree while being on the pro level.
I think for her, she is a living image of something that I want to try to pursue, and if she’s done it, it gives me the confidence to really keep going and pursue what I want to do in the future as well.
Q. Simple one: How did you know it was time to turn professional? What factors went into that?
ROSE ZHANG: Yeah, that’s a very difficult question because I was trying to figure out that timeline as well. Beginning my college career I told Coach Walker that I do want to pursue professional golf in the future, but I didn’t know whether or not it would be after four years, during my college career, and whatnot.
But one thing is for sure: I wanted to finish my degree. The second factor was I wanted to see how well I played in college golf. I believe that if you’re not able to conquer one stage, then you won’t be able to go on to the next one and say that it’s time for the next step.
So I wanted to see how I fared in college golf, and turned out well. That’s why I tried pursuing it. I thought, okay, now I can see where the trend is going. I see that I have potential going to the next stage. Therefore, I think it’s time to make a plan.
And first year of college didn’t think about it at all. I was like, okay, just finish college, finish the first year, figure out who you are as a person.
And then going into sophomore year there was a little bit more talk. But I honestly just felt like I’ll take the first fall quarter steady and see what that decision may imply, see what kind of routes I can take, if I do decide to turn.
And then I’ve had great support people around me who have played huge factors. My family, agents, coaches, all of them have put their input in me. I’ve taken their considerations and their logic of things very seriously, and from there, I ultimately want to make a decision that we work out well for me.
So I think just following through the sophomore year, battling the decision here and there, but made out to be a very good one. I felt like it was time for the next stage. Regardless of what happens on the professional level, I’ll still be at school finishing out.
I think the logistics part of being able to go to school while being a professional also played a huge role in me deciding to turn pro.
Q. When do you hope to graduate?
ROSE ZHANG: No idea. (Laughter.) Stanford is not exactly an easy plays for academics. I tried to take it more relatively chill. I would like to take classes in the fall; winter is our off-season I guess in golf, so I’ll be able to take more classes there; and then spring quarter is kind of a speed run, so I’ll take a leave of absence and continue that route until I graduate.
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