Rose Zhang knocks rust off, soars up LPGA leaderboard with schoolwork behind her


What rust?

Rose Zhang, who carded a second straight 3-under 68 on Friday, has looked like a seasoned veteran at the Fir Hills Seri Pak Championship in California—not someone who just completed their coursework at Stanford.

“It’s been a while since I’ve been on a golf course and actually playing competitively,” Zhang said.

“Even in practice, especially back at school, there weren’t many opportunities because the weather wasn’t great.”

The golf world last saw Zhang at The Match at the end of February, but she has not played on the LPGA Tour since the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions in mid-January.

Despite that, she played admirably on Friday.

“I was just trying to get used to the course, trying to understand where to place my ball and the course strategy,” Zhang said after her second round Friday.

“Course management just comes over time as you keep playing. That was basically what I was referring to, just trying to be comfortable and trying to commit to my targets.”

Zhang hit plenty of her targets on Friday, hitting 17 of 18 greens in regulation. She made four birdies and is now at 6-under through 36 holes at Palo Verdes Golf Club. She sits one stroke off the lead, as of this writing.

FIR HILLS SERI PAK Championship - Round Two

Rose Zhang during the second round of the 2024 Fir Hills Seri Pak Championship.
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Her first birdie of the day came on her first hole, the 370-yard par-4 10th.

“I think it’s always nice to start off on 10 with a birdie,” Zhang added.

“I think once you get that going, even if you are faltering a little bit the next couple holes, you have something to bounce back on a little bit.”

She quickly gave that back on the 11th, making bogey. But she righted the ship over the next seven holes, making seven straight pars to go out in 36.

The Stanford Cardinal then ramped things up on the front nine, making birdies on the 2nd, 4th, and 5th holes.

“I made a really good putt on two, and that was probably the longest putt that I’ve had. Or definitely the longest putt I had today,” Zhang said.

“From there, I was able to hit some really solid shots coming in. I birdied two in a row because I left myself really close. That definitely helped me.”

Although she hit the ball well tee-to-green Friday, Zhang admitted that she needs to practice her putting. The statistics show that, too. Zhang needed 31 putts during Friday’s second round.

But after a long layoff from competitive play, the last thing to come back for a player is often their short game. A superb feel on the greens comes from comfort and a consistent routine.

Zhang has been unable to practice as much as she hoped, mainly due to her studies. But her coursework at Stanford is now in the rearview mirror, and the rising LPGA star is happy to report that she passed with flying colors.

“I’m in for one exam. But I got full marks, so… Given it’s a take-home exam. But it required a lot of lectures, reviews, and a lot of readings,” Zhang explained.

“I’m not getting Cs, so that’s good.”

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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