Rose Zhang recently became the first woman to win back-to-back NCAA individual national titles, successfully defending her trophy in Arizona; 20-old, who now has more victories as a Stanford golfer than Tiger Woods, turns pro and awarded special exemption for AIG Women’s Open
Last Updated: 26/05/23 1:41pm
Leading amateur Rose Zhang has turned professional and been given a special exemption for the AIG Women’s Open at Walton Heath.
Zhang, who recently turned 20, will compete at the major for the third time when it is held from August 9-13, having played as an amateur for the previous two years.
The American missed the cut by one stroke at Carnoustie in 2021 but finished in a tie for 28th place at Muirfield last year to win the Smyth Salver as the leading amateur.
Earlier this month, Zhang became the first woman to win back-to-back NCAA individual national titles, successfully defending her trophy in Arizona as she eclipsed the number of victories Tiger Woods achieved as a Stanford University golfer.
Her achievements in the amateur game include spending 141 weeks at the top of the rankings, winning the Augusta National Women’s Amateur this year and the US Women’s Amateur in 2020, and helping America’s Curtis Cup team to victories overs Great Britain and Ireland in 2021 and 2022.
Zhang said of being awarded a spot at the Women’s Open: “I am honoured to have received a special exemption. I would like to thank The R&A for providing me with this incredible opportunity at the very beginning of my professional career and I hope to make the most of it.
“I have great memories of winning the Smyth Salver at Muirfield last year and was proud to see my name alongside so many great names on that trophy. The AIG Women’s Open is a championship I would love to win one day and if that were to be at Walton Heath it would be very special.”
Martin Slumbers, CEO of The R&A said: “Rose Zhang is an incredibly talented golfer who has already written her name into the history books as an amateur golfer.
“It is very rare that we grant a special exemption for the AIG Women’s Open but we believe that Rose’s exceptional achievements to date warrant her inclusion.”