AUGUSTA, GEORGIA | World No. 1 Rose Zhang seemed to be in relative control – making putts with authority and maintaining at least a share of the lead with what she called “uneventful” golf on a course best known for its eventful nature.
Then came the 13th hole and with it went the 17-year-old’s best chance to be the second consecutive No. 1 player to win the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
Zhang duck hooked her drive off the 13th tee and it was declared lost in the hazard. After re-teeing, her approach into the par-5 green came up short into the tributary of Rae’s Creek. She failed to get up and down from there and walked off with the first triple bogey she can remember making “in a long time.”
“It was the first eventful hole I had in a while, so it was not a pretty hole,” Zhang said. “I definitely do think that there was some wrong course management in that area. Hopefully next time I'll learn to improve on it.”
Zhang made a comeback birdie at 14 to reclaim a share of the lead as other contenders were having their own eventful issues. But an approach over the back of the 17th green led to a costly bogey and her 10-foot birdie putt on the last missed to keep her out of the playoff.
“I think my biggest takeaway is just being able to stay in the mix and really allow myself to enjoy every moment out on this golf course,” Zhang said. “I mean, everyone playing was in contention basically, and to handle the pressure of just being on television and just playing at Augusta National, I think says a lot. I think in general, I just have a lot to work on and I think that if I keep in my stride I'm still able to improve even more.”
The reigning U.S. Women’s Amateur champion said the experience this week does not change her plans to attend Stanford University next fall.
“Well, I think for me, I have a lot of maturing to do,” she said. “I just think that college is the place where I'll be able to play even better, shoot better scores and mature as a person and character. For now, I don't really have any intention of turning professional. But when I'm ready, I think I will know it when I'm ready.”
Top: Rose Zhang reacts after sinking her triple-bogey putt Saturday on No. 13.