The 19-year-old star amateur, who has been ranked No. 1 in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking for more than 130 weeks, debuted in the inaugural event as one of the youngest golfers in the field at 15 years old. Since then, she’s taken the college and amateur golf world by storm.
In 2020, Zhang triumphed at the U.S. Women’s Amateur, and she won the 2022 individual NCAA Championship playing for Stanford.
But despite all her success, one title still eludes her: the Augusta National Women’s Amateur. In 2021, Zhang came painfully close to a victory, making a devastating triple-bogey in the final round at Augusta’s par-5 13th hole to finish T3, one shot out of the playoff.
Zhang again made the cut last year but failed to improve her result, finishing T12 after the final round at Augusta National.
But Zhang isn’t discouraged from her past performances, far from it, as she explained this week in a press conference ahead of the tournament.
“It’s super exciting. I think that this course and this entire venue is a testament to the game of golf. I’m just super excited to be out here and compete with all of the best amateurs in the world,” Zhang said on Tuesday. “And it’s Augusta National. It can’t get any better.”
Not that she doesn’t want a victory this week. Zhang very much has a win in this event on her mind, especially with her amateur career likely coming to an end soon.
“I would say in terms of resume, the ANWA is a title I haven’t achieved yet. So it’s really cool to be able to be here and get another go at it,” she said, adding, “I don’t really think much about these things. I feel like I’ve been really thankful to even place well the last couple years. So right now my forefront goal is to make that cut.”
When it comes to what has prevented her from winning the ANWA in her past attempts, Zhang identifies her shaky play in the final round at treacherous Augusta National, not the first two rounds at Champions Retreat, as the culprit.
“I feel like I played pretty well on Champions Retreat, but I feel like I faltered when it came to the final round at Augusta National. All three years actually. So I think that’s kind of where I didn’t capitalize on my positions.”
Ultimately though, her focus right now is on Champions Retreat, because if she doesn’t play well over the first two days, she won’t get a chance to fight for the title on Saturday at Augusta.
“But [Augusta National] is kind of another story for now. I think that the next two days are still going to be really grueling, and you never know what you get at Champions Retreat.”
Zhang tees off for the first round at 8:46 a.m. ET on Wednesday. Golf Channel’s live broadcast begins at 1:30 p.m. ET.