NCAA Women's Championship: Rose Zhang adds to her legacy; Stanford earns top seed
Rose Zhang (Stanford Athletics photo)
Rose Zhang (Stanford Athletics photo)

The legend of Rose Zhang continues to grow.

The Stanford sophomore came from four shots back on Monday to win her second consecutive NCAA women's individual title, becoming the first player to accomplish the feat.

Zhang entered the final round trailing 54-hole leader Catherine Park by four shots, but a bogey-free 4-under 68 lifted the world's top-ranked women's amateur to her eighth win of the season (10 starts) and the 12th of her career, which is most of any Stanford golfer in school history, surpassing Tiger Woods, Maverick McNealy and Patrick Rodgers.

With Zhang's win on Monday, she tied the NCAA single-season record with eight wins, tying Lorena Ochoa of Arizona in 2001-02, and Renee Heiken of Illinois in 1992-93.

At 10-under par, Zhang finished one stroke ahead of Lucia Lopez Ortega of San Jose and Park of USC, who missed a short putt on her final hole which would have given her a share of the lead at 10-under.

“It’s incredible," said Zhang. "The national championships are a time where there are so many Division-I teams that are coming into this week with the mindset of winning. There are so many elite athletes out here, so the competition is super strong and for me to be able to come out on top shows I’ve been dedicated, I’ve been driven and I’m super proud of where I stand now. I couldn’t have done it without all the prep work and all the mental game that my family, friends and coaches have taught me.”

Zhang's historic win also helped the Cardinal earn the top-seed heading into the match-play portion of the championship which begins tomorrow. At 19-under, Stanford secured the top seed for the third consecutive year and will face No. 8 seed Pepperdine in a quarterfinal match Tuesday morning.

Other quarterfinal match-ups will see No. 2 Texas take on a familiar foe in Texas A&M, while No. 3 seed Wake Forest will meet ACC conference rival Florida State. No. 4 seed South Carolina will square off against No. 5 USC.

• • • • •

How she did it

There isn't a major amateur title Rose Zhang hasn't won, so the world's top-ranked amateur successfully completed the first stop on her own personal reunion tour Monday afternoon at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale.

Unlike last year when she took a seven-shot lead into the final round, Zhang entered Championship Monday at Grayhawk four shots behind Catherine Park of USC.

Rose Zhang
Teeing off almost an hour before Zhang, Park heard the loud footsteps all day, as Zhang methodically chased down her childhood friend from Irvine with birdies on holes No. 4, 6, 7 and 11.

Lucia Lopez Ortega of San Jose was also in the fray but bogeyed two of her last three holes to finish one back at 9-under.

Park trailed Zhang by one shot on the leaderboard as she stood on the 18th tee box, a birdie-friendly 495-yard par 5. However, she missed a short birdie putt which would have tied Zhang at 10-under.

It was Zhang's championship to lose, and the world's No. 1 was going to have nothing of it, as she methodically closed out her round with seven consecutive pars, which included a nifty up-and-down on the short par-4 17th hole, to win her second consecutive national collegiate title.

“I feel like the gameplan today was to be in position," said Zhang. "Especially at Grayhawk here, the greens are very difficult, they’ve been placing the pins in very difficult positions so really understanding where you need to be was critical. For me and my teammates, we’ve been on a gameplan the whole week, and we will continue to do that going into match-play so without that gameplan I wouldn’t be here."

She was one of two players in the fourth round to shoot a bogey-free round, along with Lauren Miller of SMU.

Zhang, who turns 20 on Wednesday, previously won the U.S. Women's Amateur in 2020, the U.S. Girls' Junior in 2021, the Augusta National Women's Amateur this April, along with her first NCAA individual title last year.

• • • • •

Stanford earns the top seed for the third consecutive year

Stanford will have little time to celebrate Zhang's historic win, as the top-seeded Cardinal will face upstart Pepperdine in a quarterfinal match tomorrow morning.

Don't sleep on the Waves.

A little over a month ago, Pepperdine tied Stanford for first place at the inaugural Silicon Valley Showcase. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the tournament was Zhang didn't win it. Instead, medalist honors went to Pepperdine's Lion Higo, a junior from Gold Coast Australia, who claimed the individual title at 1-over 214.

Higo shot a final round 70 on Monday which included a 30-foot birdie on the final hole to secure Pepperdine's spot in the match-play portion of the tournament.

The winner of the Stanford-Pepperdine match will advance to meet either South Carolina or USC in a semifinal match later in the afternoon.

• • • • •

Tuesday's schedule

No. 2 Texas vs. No. 7 Texas A&M, 6:20 a.m.
No. 1 Stanford vs. No. 8 Pepperdine, 7:00 a.m.
No. 3 Wake Forest vs. No. 6 Florida State, 6:20 a.m.
No. 4 South Carolina vs. No. 5 USC, 7:00 a.m.

Following the conclusion of the quaterfinals

Golf Channel will provide live coverage from Grayhawk beginning at noon ET and will resume coverage with semifinal action at 5:00 p.m. ET.

Results: NCAA Division I Women's Championship
1CARose ZhangIrvine, CA150072-67-71-68=278
T2SpainLucia Lopez-OrtegaSpain100068-69-71-71=279
T2CACatherine ParkIrvine, CA100071-64-71-73=279
4AustraliaMaddison Hinson-TolchardAustralia70066-70-74-70=280
T5TXMichelle (Yunxuan) ZhangPlano, TX70072-72-67-70=281

View full results for NCAA Division I Women's Championship

ABOUT THE NCAA Division I Women's Championship

30 teams and 6 individuals not on a qualifying team make up the field for the championship of NCAA Division I women's golf.

After 72 holes of stroke play, the individual champion is crowned, and the low 8 teams advance to match play to determine the team champion.

View Complete Tournament Information

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