UPDATE: 13-year-old(!) shoots six-under-par 67 at Chambers Bay, shares medalist honors at U.S. Women's Amateur
A day after Tom Kim became the first golfer born in the 2000s to win on the PGA Tour, a girl significantly younger turned heads in another big golf tournament on the other side of the country.
Introducing Alice Ziyi Zhao, who opened the 122nd U.S. Women's Amateur Championship by shooting a six-under 67 at Chambers Bay. As if shooting a 67 on a golf course that hosted the 2015 U.S. Open isn't impressive enough (Jordan Spieth won that week with a five under total, by the way), Zhao is only 13. That makes the 20-year-old Kim look like a grizzled veteran.
"Coming into today I didn’t really have any expectations," Zhao told USGA.org after Monday's first round of stroke play. "The course is really beautiful, and I just tried to enjoy my round and not think about shooting low."
Well, the expectations will probably go up a bit now after the (barely) teenager took a one-shot lead after Day 1. Zhao, who was born in China, but now lives in California, broke Chambers Bay's women's course record. Talk about an auspicious start to your first career USGA championship.
Zhao and the rest of the field will try to get inside the top 64 to advance to the match-play portion of the event beginning on Wednesday.
"I know going into match play it is a whole different game," Zhao added. "Even if you’re the 64 seed, you can still win. So I try not to think ahead too much."
Of course, phenoms in golf are nothing new, particularly on the women's side, where we've seen players like Michelle Wie, Lexi Thompson, and Lydia Ko do extraordinary things at a young age. Still, it never ceases to amaze—even if this was only one round. So far.
That being said, it's already been a big summer for Chinese-born junior golfers. Last month, Wenyi Ding became the first from the country to win a USGA championship at the U.S. Junior at Bandon Dunes.
UPDATE: With a second-round 69, Zhao finished stroke play at 10 under to share medalist honors with Latanna Stone, 20, and Laney Frye, 19. The trio are the three top seeds as match play begins on Wednesday.
“I had a couple of mistakes, but otherwise I played pretty solid today,” Zhao told USGA.org. “I think I missed two short birdie putts. I really like match play, so hopefully I can put together another couple good rounds.”
At 13 years and six months, Zhao is the youngest medalist/co-medalist in U.S. Women's Amateur history.