Another week, another set of records sent tumbling in the wake of Rose Zhang.
With a flawless performance at the NCAA Championships, the 19-year-old Stanford sophomore defended her NCAA National Championship crown in Arizona to become the first women’s golfer in history to win back-to-back individual national titles.
Having begun the final round four shots off the lead, Zhang tore round Scottsdale’s Grayhawk Golf Club with a bogey-free, four-under 68 to equal the NCAA record of eight single season wins held by Renee Heiken and Lorena Ochoa.
“I still don’t know what is going on,” Zhang said. “And it’s really hard to process because when you’re chasing from behind, you really don’t know what’s happening.
“I genuinely just… I can’t believe this is all happening. It’s just simple to say I’m super grateful.”
In addition to her eighth victory of the season, it’s also the 12th of her career, the most of any Stanford golfer in school history. Tiger Woods, Maverick McNealy and Patrick Rodgers each had 11 on the men’s side. Not to mention, Zhang also set a new record for lowest scoring average in a single season, coming in at 68.81, besting her 69.68 record from last season.
Zhang’s win has also helped the Cardinal secure the top overall seed in match play, which begins Tuesday. Stanford will first face eighth-seeded Pepperdine with a chance to win its second consecutive team title.
Before Monday’s final round, Stanford coach Anne Walker stepped in to offer some advice to her sophomore sensation. Walker said she challenged Zhang to be aggressive. She wanted Zhang to play smarter, like Walker knew her star was capable of.
“She’s the absolute GOAT. She is the best amateur of all time,” said Walker, according to Golf Digest.
Zhang, however, is not in a rush to claim the tag.
“Me even being in the same sentence with Tiger Woods is just so weird and so foreign, but I couldn’t be more thankful,” she said in an interview with the NCAA ahead of the National Championship.
“I have no idea what records that I’m setting. I don’t really think about those, especially when I am playing because a part of being a high performer and part of playing well involves staying in the present. These are things that happen as by-products through my work and that’s how I take everything.”
To sum it all up, this season, Zhang is arguably the greatest college golfer of all time and she has cemented her legacy as the best female amateur in the history of the game.
Walker seemed a bit taken aback when she realized the victory was Zhang’s eighth of the year. Yet she didn’t struggle to find words to summarize her season.
“I kind of felt like she was already solidified as the best amateur of all time, and what she did today, that’s just the period on theend of the sentence,” Walker said. “No one’s ever done this before. It’s so hard to do. And she did it in a different way. She’s Rose.”