Composure and consistency key 14-year-old Californian to win the Junior PGA Championship major title
The Junior PGA Championship competition has produced a long string of standout golfers. Cristie Kerr won the Junior PGA Championship. So, too, did Inbee Park and Lexi Thompson. Trevor Immelman is a Junior PGA Champion, as are Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas, Stewart Cink, Michelle Wie, and Jordan Spieth. Now Rose Zhang has joined them, setting a few records of her own on her way to claiming the title.
Her second hole of the second round was the beginning.
A few days later, 14-year-old Rose Zhang stood second to none.
The Irvine, California native fired a second round 65 to take a share of the lead at the Girls Junior PGA Championship this week. Zhang would tally 12 birdies and only two bogies over the final 36 holes to take home The Patty Berg Trophy as winner of the Girls Junior PGA Championship.
An eagle on the second hole of the Country Club at St. Albans Course served as a catalyst for Zhang. She went on to shoot a 65 in the second round, followed by a 66 and 68 to tie a tournament record, 20-under 268 in the process.
"“I think I played well under pressure and allowed myself to be in this position.”"
Zhang still had plenty of competition
Her championship, however, did not come without some late drama.
Eventual runner-up Yealimi Noh birdied the 14th and cut Zhang’s lead that started around six strokes to two. Zhang’s pressure-packed birdies on 15 and 16, paired with a double-bogie for Noh on 16, however, put the Junior PGA Championship away for good.
Noh would finish at 14-under for the tournament. Defending champ Lucy Li finished in a tie for third place with Michaela Morard and Angelina Ye at 12-under.
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Hailee Cooper of Montgomery, Texas led at St. Albans after carding a first-round-best 64. Cooper followed up with a 70, despite an opening-hole triple bogie to get to 10-under. That mark gained Cooper a share of the top of the leaderboard with the surging Zhang.
Zhang’s consistency throughout the Junior PGA Championship, including a perfect 14-for-14 Greens in Regulation (GIR) during the final round, kept her out of any major danger spots. Her Putts Per GIR ranked first for the tournament at 1.62.
The World Amateur Golf Ranking™ currently has Zhang ranked 307th—up 712 spots from her most previous ranking.
So, what’s next for the junior champion? High school.
Zhang begins this fall at Pacific Academy.
With some even more seasoning, she may not be finishing second or lower too often.
What’s next for Rose Zhang? We’ll have to wait and see, but the Junior PGA Championship title has proved for any number of promising young golfers to serve as the foundation for very successful pro careers.