Rose Zhang’s Dreamy Debut Drastically Fails to Capture LPGA’s Special Crown Leaving the Rookie in an Old Foe’s Shadow

Published 11/14/2023, 7:00 AM EST

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Rose Zhang became the darling of golf fans even before she turned pro this April. Tasting victory at the debut tournament beating three-time LPGA Tour winner Jennifer Kupcho in the playoff only solidified her status. That convinced even the most cynical golf fans that Zhang’s name had already been written on the LPGA Tour’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award.

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Seven months later, the crown does have a suitor, and it’s not Rose Zhang. Interestingly enough, it is the South Korean whom she surpassed by a one-stroke lead in her debut victory had the last laugh. The American phenom also failed to write her name in the ledger that includes the likes of Nancy Lopez, Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb, and other Hall of Famers.

Rose Zhang had a stellar first half but just not enough

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Rose Zhang had a dream debut that any rookie can hope for. Even before Zhang debuted on the LPGA Tour, she came with a bag full of records and medals hanging around her neck. The 17-year-old Zhang won the US Women’s Amateur in 2020.

Just before turning pro this year, the American Phenom broke the scoring records at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur while clinching the title. The World No.1 Amateur for 141 weeks also created history by becoming the only second woman to win in her professional debut, first in 72 years.

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It seemed the Rookie of the Year Award can go in only one way. The Standford product’s run of stellar form continued in the Majors as well; she bagged two top-ten finishes at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and the U.S. Women’s Open. But only one top-ten finish at the last eight tournaments saw her finish at the third position in the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year standings.

In her absence, South Korean LPGA Pro, Hae Ran Ryu bagged the title. Unlike Zhang, Ryu’s maiden LPGA Tour victory took some time to come, at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in September. Earning over $1.5 million from her 24 outings, she also edges past Zhang in the LPGA Tour’s money list as well.

Despite Struggling Against Japanese Counterparts, Rose Zhang Proves Her Modest Nature in Latest Admission

Ryu wraps her maiden season with the prestigious award

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Ryu finished her last outing at the Pelican Golf Course with a 12th-place finish. The 46 points she earned from the Annika Driven by Gainbridge at Pelican were enough to secure an impassable 274-point lead over Grace Kim and a 380-point lead over third-placed Rose Zhang.

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Interestingly, the South Korean Pro came third in Rose Zhang’s debut victory at the Mizuho Classic Open. That became irrelevant at the end of the season, as she comfortably edged past Zhang to clinch the most prestigious Rookie award in the LPGA Tour. The 22-year-old LPGA Tour pro became the 14th South Korean in 25 years to earn the prestigious award. That stat alone speaks of the power of talent that the East Asian nation has become on the golfing map.

Watch This Story | Amid Trumping LPGA Prodigy Rose Zhang, 21-Year-Old Japanese Pro Passionately Admits Her Global Ambitions

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Written by:

Parnab Bhattacharya

624Articles

One take at a time

Parnab is a budding golf writer at Essentially Sports. He is keen on constantly exploring his deep-rooted love for golf through his long-time passion for writing. With a strong knack for storytelling and experience in SEO content writing, he brings a unique blend of fluent writing and technical expertise.
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Edited by:

Tushhita.barua

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