- NCAA/Stanford photo
After establishing herself as the top college player in the game and consistently showing she can play with the best in professional majors, Rose Zhang
(Irvine, Calif.) is the 2022 AmateurGolf.com Women's Player of the Year.
The AmateurGolf.com Women's Player of the Year is awarded based on a point system earned through performance in major women's amateur events throughout the course of the year. This year, the 19-year-old Zhang topped a deep international field that included six different nations in the top 10 players.
Players of the Year
Zhang can throw this honor on the growing pile of awards she has earned in a meteoric rise that has seen her win two USGA championships and the NCAA's along with a number of other junior, amateur and college titles. Throw in a team national championship at Stanford, the ANNIKA Award, two Curtis Cup team titles for the USA, three Mark H. McCormack medals, and gold medals at the Pan American Games, Spirit International, and World Amateur Team (Espirito Santo Trophy), and at the age of 19 she is practically running out of mountains to conquer as an amateur golfer.
Not that she's in a big hurry to turn pro. As she told AmateurGolf.com's Jim Young in his recent interview A Quick Nine with Rose Zhang
, her focus is on the here-and-now.
"I do have goals but they aren’t necessarily based on achievements or championships," said Zhang to Young when they spoke in late fall. "They are more focused on my performance, daily life and character development, as opposed to winning a specific tournament. I focus on all of the little things on a daily basis that will help me be successful."
And successful, she is, more so than perhaps any amateur golfer since her role model Lydia Ko
, who was the AG Women's Player of the Year in 2012 and 2013.
When 2022 began, Zhang had just completed her first semester of golf at Stanford, where she won the first three college events she played. And while she didn't keep her win streak going, she was constantly in contention, starting her spring season by going 4th at the Lamkin Invitational, 2nd at the Gunrock Invitational and 2nd at the Meadow Club Women's Intercollegiate.
In fact, her worst
college finish all year would be 12th, her only finish outside the top 10.
Zhang would peak just in time for the Cardinal's postseason run, starting with a runner-up finish in the Pac 12 Women's Championships, and continuing with another runner-up at the NCAA West Regional to help lead No. 1 Stanford into the NCAA Championship.
At Grayhawk Golf Club, Zhang led throughout, eventually winning the individual title
by three shots.
With the win, Zhang joined Pat Hurst as the only two players to win the U.S. Girls' Jr., U.S. Women's Amateur and the NCAA individual championships. (Tiger Woods is the only male player to win the U.S. Junior Boys', U.S. Amateur and NCAA titles.)
Three rounds of team match play later, Stanford fulfilled its promise by winning the national championship
with Zhang winning the anchor match.
The next day, Zhang won the ANNIKA Award
as the nation's outstanding women's college golfer.
It wouldn't be the only team trophy she would land in 2022. She started the summer by helping the United States win the Curtis Cup
in resounding fashion at Merion Golf Club.
Her remaining summer golf mostly revolved around professional major championships. In fact, she made the cut in three of them, and winning the Smyth Salver
as the low amateur at the AIG Women's British Open.
The awards kept coming, as Zhang earned her third straight McCormack award
as the world's top amateur golfer.
If there was even a hint of disappointment for Zhang in 2022, it might have been at the Women's World Amateur Team (Espirito Santo Trophy) in France. Even though she tied for individual medalist honors, and led a U.S. comeback on the last day, she missed a putt at the last hole that would have given the U.S. the team win. Instead, Sweden won in a tiebreaker
. Zhang handled it flawlessly, acknowledging the disappointment but saying that she hit the putt exactly the way she wanted to and acknowledging the team's effort that day.
Back on campus, Zhang started her sophomore year with a win at the Carmel Cup, setting the course record at Pebble Beach
in the process.
She would go on to win three of her four college events in the fall, closing out the year with a whopping seven-shot win
at the Stanford Intercollegiate and a three-shot triumph
at the Pac 12 Women's Preview in Hawaii.
The Cardinal have been ranked No. 1 the whole year, and given that only one team has beaten them all fall, they will be heavy favorites to repeat as champions next spring. Then again, history has shown that any team with Rose Zhang on it has to be considered the favorite.
Final Women's POY Points Standings, 2022
In any other year, Ingrid Lindblad
of Sweden and LSU might have been the POY with five college wins and a T11 at the U.S. Women's Open, the best finish by an amateur in a professional major this year. Instead (and amazingly), she finishes as the runner-up in the points race for the third straight year.
U.S. Women's Amateur champion and next-big-thing Saki Baba
of Japan finished third, while Amari Avery
, the USC breakout star
, and Rachel Kuehn
of Wake Forest rounded out the top five.
In all, six different nations were represented in the top ten points earners.
Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com Women's Rankings
| Complete 2022 Points List (1216 players)