Rose Zhang breaks incredible Tiger Woods record at Stanford

Rose Zhang of Stanford celebrates with her team after winning the individual medalist after the final round of the Division I Women's Individual Stroke Play Golf Championship at Grayhawk Golf Club on May 22, 2023 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Rose Zhang is showered by her teammates after winning the NCAA Individual title.

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The Stanford Golf record book was filled with stars even before Rose Zhang arrived in Palo Alto.

Names like Tiger Woods, Maverick McNealy, Casey Martin, Notah Begay III and Patrick Rodgers go up and down the list of notable Stanford alumni, and that’s just the men’s side. Zhang even joined a women’s team with an already crowned NCAA Individual champion Rachel Heck.

But now Zhang stands atop them all.

The sophomore shot a 68 Monday to come from behind and defend her title at the NCAA Division I Women’s Individual Championship at Greyhawk Country Club in Scottsdale, Arizona. Zhang becomes the first woman ever to win multiple NCAA Division I golf titles and ties the NCAA record with her eighth win in 10 starts this season.

“There are so many elite athletes out here, so the competition is super strong,” Zhang told Golf Channel. “To be able to come out on top shows I’ve been dedicated and driven and I’m super proud of where I stand now. I couldn’t have done it without all the prep work and all the mental game that my family, friends and coaches have taught me.”

And when it comes to the Standford record book, the win is her 12th in her Cardinal career, breaking the previous school record held by Woods, McNealy and Rodgers. All three men accomplished the previous record in three seasons. Zhang did it in just two.

Her national individual title is also the third straight for Stanford after Heck won in her freshman season in 2021.

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Unlike a year ago when Zhang, also at Greyhawk, ran away from the field and coasted in the final round to a three-shot win, Zhang worked from behind for most of the tournament. She opened with a disappointing 72, leaving her in a tie for 36th.

But she came back with a 67 in Round 2 and 71 in the third round to enter the final round four off the lead of USC’s Catherine Park. She made her move mid-way through the front nine with birdies on 4, 6 and 7 and then added another at 11 to get to 10 under for the week.

Rose Zhang made no bogeys Monday. Getty Images

Park meanwhile was up-and-down in the final round and missed a short birdie putt on 18 that could have sent the two to a playoff. She finished co-runner-up with San Jose State’s Lucia Lopez-Ortega, who was also at 10-under toward the end of the round but made two bogeys over her last three holes.

Zhang didn’t actually know where she stood on the last hole, a par-5, and was getting ready to go for the green. However, Stanford coach Anne Walker was walking with her and called her off, telling her she’d “be hitting wedge-wedge.”

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“When I was walking down 18 and I striped a drive, coach was like ‘you should layup’ and I was confused,” Zhang said. “I had 198 [yards] out and I had a ‘I need to go for it’ mentally, but she was like ‘No, you got a one-stroke lead’ so I went ‘OH’ maybe I’ll second guess everything that I just did at that moment. I just can’t believe this happened. It’s definitely a different scenario but I couldn’t be more thankful and I appreciate everyone’s who’s supported me.”

The world’s top amateur parred the final seven holes for a 68 and a one-stroke win.

Zhang and the Cardinal will also play on for a second-consecutive team title. They finished the stroke-play portion of the championships as the No. 1 seed and face Pepperdine in the match-play quarterfinals Tuesday morning.

“The thing I’ve learned in match-play and the team has learned is nothing is guaranteed, ever,” Walker said. “So we will be showing up and giving our very best and see which way we shake out at the end of the day.”

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