RBC Canadian Open

Hamilton Golf & Country Club

Chevron Championship

Rose Zhang got a well-earned break and now sets her sights on contending in another major

April 16, 2024

Julio Aguilar

THE WOODLANDS, Texas — Rose Zhang finally got a break. The 20-year-old had her first break of the year last week, after starting 2024 with a quarter of schoolwork at Stanford, playing in the LPGA's Tournament of Champions in January, The Match in February, then finishing her finals before playing at the Se Ri Pak Fir Hills Championship in March, the first of three straight weeks competing on tour.

After the Irvine, Calif. native finished that gauntlet with a quarterfinals loss at the T-Mobile LPGA Match Play two weeks ago, she enjoyed a dinner with Michelle Wie West and Marina Alex before completing her move to Las Vegas and "letting loose," as Zhang joked on Tuesday, by doing pretty much nothing and watching some of the Masters. The week off gave Zhang a needed breather before her first professional appearance in this week’s major Chevron Championship at the Country Club of Carlton Woods.

"Especially in the 10 weeks, I felt like there was a lot more stress involved when it came to going back on campus and going back in the flow with studying and practicing a little bit more," Zhang said. "Then when I was playing on tour for a little bit, it did take a little bit of adjusting for me just because it's an entirely different atmosphere out here than in college."

The respite from her hectic schedule allowed Zhang to change her usual tournament week preparation. She flew to Houston on Saturday to get to the Chevron early for extra practice at the course. Zhang focused on her short game and putting Sunday to start learning some of the grain on the track's recently renovated greens, which were completed last November. She played her first 18 on Monday, trying to catch up on course knowledge after missing last year's Chevron while still competing at Stanford.

Zhang explained that while major venues test all of a player's skills, there is extra emphasis for her in the short game and course management—lessons she learned in her eight majors as an amateur. That approach led Zhang to success in her four majors as a rookie last year, in which the 2023 Mizuho America Opens winner posted three top-10s in four starts—a pair of T-9s at the U.S. Women's Open and Amundi Evian Championship, along with a T-8 at the KPMG Women's PGA.

"Especially in major weeks you have to learn how to somewhat be comfortable with the shots you're playing with minor adjustments," Zhang said. "It's mostly the short game and the lag putting that will make the difference with a lot of players."

Zhang added that her small changes this week may include going beyond her stock yardages—the 6,889-yard setup is one of the longest on the LPGA—and hitting her approaches higher into the fresh, firmer greens.

Zhang's pro debut in this major also comes with a key question: Would she jump into the pond next to the 18th green if she won? She said she’s already pondered the possibility with her caddie.

"At that point, if you're a major champion, why not? Just jump in," Zhang said. "Yeah, I don't think I would do it voluntarily."