Rose Zhang survives a wild final round to win the Augusta National Women's Amateur
It wasn't exactly the stress-free walk some had expected for Rose Zhang on Saturday at the final round of the Augusta National Women's Amateur, but at the end of a long day, the world's top-ranked women's amateur found her holy grail, defeating Jenny Bae on the second playoff hole to win the only major amateur title that had previously eluded her.

Zhang, who began the day with a five-shot lead over Andrea Lingnell, wobbled to a final round 76 and found herself in a playoff with Bae, a fifth-year senior at the University of Georgia who started the day six shots back, but crafted a brilliant 2-under 70 and pulled even with Zhang with a birdie on the 17th hole.

After both players traded pars on the first playoff hole (No. 18), Bae hooked her approach shot into the pine straw under a tree to the left of the 10th green, leaving the door open for Zhang, whose second shot from the middle of the fairway came to rest some 40 feet past the hole. When Bae's blast from the trees scooted over the green into the greenside bunker, Zhang needed just two putts to win the ANWA title.

After her long birdie putt just missed its mark, Zhang's tap-in for the title was met with as much relief as joy as she was mobbed by her Stanford teammates on the green.

Rose Zhang
No one could have predicted how the final round would play out, but the odds were long that Zhang would relinquish a five-shot lead after two record-setting rounds at Champions Retreat where her flawless play left her at 13-under heading into Championship Saturday at Augusta.

As Zhang found out, closing out a final round with a five-shot lead under trying conditions on a difficult course such as Augusta National is no guarantee. An opening double bogey was a precursor to the day that lay ahead for the Stanford sophomore, who played her first seven holes 4-over, leaving the door open for Lignell and Bae.

A three-hour weather delay gave Zhang a chance to reset and calm her nerves a bit after a shaky start, but Bae and Lignell were making enough birdies to take a bite out of what once seemed to be an insurmountable lead.

"I feel like it's always difficult to have such a big lead, especially on such a prestigious stage," said Zhang. "When things matter the most and you have a big lead but the job's not done, it definitely puts a lot of things into perspective.

"I tried to stay as composed as possible, but at the same time, I was a little tight the first couple holes. I just felt like my swing wasn't comfortable, and I really just tried to stay in the moment. I figured out a little trigger point in my golf swing, and from then on, it was kind of smooth sailing, grinding from there.

Jenny Bae
Bae, a native of Suwanee, Ga., an Atlanta suburb a little less than three hours away from Magnolia Drive, was quietly going about her business. After making a double bogey on the third hole, Bae was 3-under over her next 15 holes drew to within one of Zhang after a birdie on the par-5 13th hole.

Game on.

Moments later, Zhang birdied the same hole - only her second of the day - to go back to two ahead with five holes remaining.

Seemingly back in control of her game after a nervy start, Zhang was in the middle of the fairway on the par-5 15th when she made the curious decision to go for the green in two, instead of laying up and trusting her sharp wedge game. Her approach found the water, which ultimately led to a bogey, cutting her lead to just one with three to play.

"I was at first adamant about it, and then my dad kind of walked through it," said Zhang. "We really talked about it, and I actually did feel comfortable with going for it. It wasn't the smartest decision, but at that time I felt like any sort of lead needs to kind of be maintained.

"And I really trusted in the shot that I was going to hit. Unfortunately, it did not happen that way. And I really made things more interesting in terms of leaderboard."

Playing a group ahead of Zhang, Bae stiffed her approach shot on 17 for a tap-in birdie to pull into a tie at 9-under. Moments later Zhang narrowly missed a birdie putt on 16 which would have regained the lead.

After missing a potential winning birdie putt on the last, she found herself in a playoff with Bae, who seemed to be growing with confidence with each hole while Zhang was holding on by a thread.

Bae had a chance to win the title on the first playoff hole, but her birdie putt from the left of the flag narrowly missed its mark.

Both players found the middle of the fairway on the second hole, the difficult 10th. Zhang's approach was long but safely on the green, while Bae hooked her second shot from 162 yards out to the left of the green into the pine straw. Needing the up and down of her life, her third shot skidded across the green into the bunker. Once Zhang cozied her long putt up to the hole, she breathed her first sigh of relief all day before tapping in to win the championship.

The ANWA championship completes the Rose Slam for Zhang, who previously won the 2020 U.S. Women's Amateur, the 2021 U.S. Girls' Junior, and last year's NCAA women's individual title at Stanford.

"I feel like I was at different stages in my life that allowed me to get to this point," said Zhang. "This win is definitely up there in prestige, but I feel like it's something that I can't really rank because every moment that I've had in my past wins have been so special in its own way.

"It's just another unique, unique win. Yeah, I'm just super grateful."

On a rare day when she struggled with her game, Zhang's win at Augusta National cements her legacy as one of the best amateurs of all time, even if it took a little more work than anyone could have expected.

• • • • •

Rose Zhang's Notable Amateur Victories
2018 PING Invitational
2019 Rolex Tournament of Champions
2020 U.S. Women's Amateur
2020 Rolex Girls Junior
2020 PING Invitational
2020 Rolex Tournament of Champions
2021 U.S. Girls’ Junior
2021 Molly Collegiate Invitational
2021 Windy City Collegiate
2021 Stanford Intercollegiate
2021 The Spirit International Amateur
2022 NCAA Division I Women's Championship
2022 Women's Carmel Cup
2022 Stanford Intercollegiate
2022 Pac-12 Preview
2023 Juli Inkster Meadow Club Intercollegiate

Results: Augusta National Women's Amateur (ANWA)
1CARose ZhangIrvine, CA150066-65-76=207
2GAJenny BaeSuwanee, GA100069-68-70=207
3SwedenAndrea LignellSweden70067-69-74=210
4SpainCayetana FernandezSpain70073-69-71=213
T5JapanSaki BabaJapan70074-70-70=214

View full results for Augusta National Women's Amateur (ANWA)

ABOUT THE Augusta National Women's Amateur (ANWA)

54-hole stroke-play tournament that will include a 72 player international field. The field will include winners of other recognized tournaments while also utilizing the Women's World Amateur Golf Rankings.

The first two rounds will be played at Champions Retreat Golf Club before the field is cut to the low 30 and ties for the final round at Augusta National.

The tournament will be played the week before the Masters, concluding on Saturday.

View Complete Tournament Information

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