Rose Zhang dominates U.S. Girls Junior Amateur, improves ridiculous match-play record
Rose Zhang capped off her dazzling junior career by winning the biggest event in junior golf: the U.S. Girls Junior Amateur.
The 18-year-old won 6 and 4 in the championship match on Saturday, defeating local favorite Bailey Davis for the second USGA title of her young career.
“Being able to be a USGA champion not only once but twice is simply a dream come true,” Zhang said.
With the win over Davis, Zhang improves her match-play record in USGA events to 15-1, her lone loss coming in the 2019 U.S. Girls Junior semifinals over 2021 U.S. Women’s Open champ Yuka Saso. Zhang also won the U.S. Women’s Amateur last summer. She is the eighth woman to win both events, but the first to win the Amateur before the Junior Amateur.
The Stanford commit was dominant all week at Columbia Country Club in Maryland, as she medaled in the stroke-play portion of the event — including a course-record 62 during the second round — and cruised through the first four rounds of match play.
Zhang’s biggest obstacle en route to the Glenna Collett Vare trophy came in the semifinals, as a scrappy Paula Miranda took the No. 1-ranked amateur to extra holes. Zhang eventually punched her ticket in the final with a birdie on the second extra hole.
“It was the first time I was down in any of the first three matches,” she said. “Being able to stay patient when I’m down and fighting my way back is very important in match play.”
Zhang didn’t have to worry about playing from behind during the championship match. The matchup was back and forth over the opening nine holes, but on the second nine of the day, Zhang began to take over. When the competitors broke for lunch, she’d stretched the lead to 4 up.
The next nine holes were more of the same. Zhang kept stretching her lead on Davis — at one point getting as far ahead as 6 up — and turned the proceeding into a coronation. Following a three-hour rain delay, she closed out the match on the 14th hole to secure the title.
“The gold medal speaks for itself,” she said. “Winning this championship is something I’ll remember for a lifetime.”