After rough day, Rose Zhang needs her best to make ANWA cut

After rough day, Rose Zhang needs her best to make ANWA cut
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EVANS, Ga. – Even superheroes have off days.

Rose Zhang entered this week’s Augusta National Women’s Amateur with other-worldly expectations – and rightfully so, as the world No. 1 and two-time USGA champion has won three times and hasn’t finished worse than T-10 in seven collegiate starts as a freshman at Stanford. But on Wednesday at Champions Retreat, Zhang dug herself an early hole with an opening-round, 4-over 76.

“Today was a little bit rough,” said Zhang, who carded six bogeys in an uncharacteristically sloppy – relative, of course – performance. “I felt like it was just really hard to get my numbers right. Whenever I hit a really good shot, it would be a very unlucky bounce. The greens today were very tough to read, for me. Overall, it was definitely a grind out there.”

Zhang admitted that she hasn’t had the “sharpest game” recently. She closed in 2-over 74 on Sunday at Arizona State’s event for her worst college finish to date.

On Wednesday, she frequently found herself hitting her ball into the wrong spots.

“You really have to place your ball correctly on this course,” Zhang said, “and if you’re not able to do that, you’re going to shoot high numbers very easily. … It’s a little bit of everything, especially the putting a little bit, and just being on this golf course, you really have to have the right course management, and I didn’t really have that today. So, there’s definitely much to talk about and discuss about with my team later.”

Full-field scores from the Augusta National Women’s Amateur

With rough weather rolling in, including heavy rain, on Thursday, Zhang is likely to face a tough challenge to make her third straight cut at the ANWA. She tied for third last year after sharing 17th as a 15-year-old in 2019. That latter performance marks the last time that Zhang has failed to crack the top 10 in a non-professional stroke-play tournament. During that period, she’s won 12 times.

A closing birdie from 35 feet on Wednesday moved her into a tie for 39th at 4 over. The top 30 players after Thursday’s second round advance to Saturday’s finale at Augusta National.

Zhang is accustomed to going low when she absolutely needs to. Earlier this spring, she closed with a course-record 64 at the Meadow Club in Fairfax, California, to secure runner-up finishes for her and the Cardinal.

On a difficult course in trying conditions, it shouldn’t take a superhuman round for Zhang to make the cut. Something in 60s should do the job this time.

“It’s definitely difficult, but you just have to keep yourself in the right mindset,” Zhang said. “I already knew going into this event that it’s going to be a grind, and I’m continuing to have that mindset. Tomorrow’s not going to be an easy day, especially with the weather, so I’m going to have to just go out there and play my best.”

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