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Rose Zhang's golf and crazy school schedule collide this week on LPGA

March 19, 2024
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Rose Zhang hits a shot in the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions.

Julio Aguilar

PALOS VERDES ESTATES, Calif. — Rose Zhang is a day away from finishing her 20-unit winter quarter at Stanford. Unfortunately for her sleep schedule, finals coincide with her return to the LPGA Tour this week. An LPGA media official had to end Zhang's press conference early Tuesday afternoon so she could drive the 45 miles in L.A. traffic home to Irvine for an open-note media psych final exam.

"The lack of sleep and the constant grinding in school hasn't been easy," Zhang said. "I would argue that it's tested me in ways that golf couldn't test me."

Before Zhang, who won the Mizuho Americas Open last June in her pro debut, can think about the Fir Hills Se Ri Pak Championship that begins Thursday at Rancho Palos Verdes Golf Club, she will have one last late night to finish four pages of a 15-page research paper for a political science class. In another finals tradition, she caught the flu that has gone around Stanford's campus, which kept her bedridden over the last few days. The 20-year-old joked that her energy level coming into the week is less than 50 percent. The amount of schoolwork required is giving Zhang pause to consider whether or not she should take online classes going forward, though it's a decision she can make later on in the year.

That's just the academic side of Zhang's pursuits. She still played in two tournaments while juggling school. In January, she finished T-7 at the LPGA's Tournament of Champions. In February, Zhang played in Capital One's The Match, a primetime made-for-TV event with established stars Rory McIlroy, Lexi Thompson and Max Homa that allowed the former amateur phenom to relish the opportunity of putting women's golf on a bigger stage.

"When Charles Barkley is in your ear, it's a little bit different," Zhang joked.

Like her academics, Zhang crammed both events into an already packed schedule. Professors voiced concern that she would miss class time during her LPGA event. To not miss school again after The Match, Zhang took a redeye back from Florida to get back to Stanford for a 9 a.m.

While Zhang views school as a break from the demands of being a professional golfer, her on-and-off-campus helter-skelter schedule has not let her fully recharge. Her packed calendar continues teaching Zhang the valuable lesson of time management, recognizing she may have overextended herself the past few months.

"I think I do appreciate a lot of obstacles that come my way where I can be tested," Zhang said. "But I do see the [busy] trend quite a bit."

While Zhang sacrificed practicing golf to spend time with her friends on campus, arriving at Palos Verdes with less preparation than usual, this week isn't her first time at the course. In February 2023, she won the Therese Hession Regional while playing for Stanford—her fourth of an NCAA record eight titles during her sophomore season with the Cardinal. Practicing on Monday and Tuesday reminded Zhang of her collegiate-tournament-winning game plan, lessening the requisite practice time to learn the track.

The tournament starts her next test of changing her mindset from a Stanford student to refocusing herself as a professional golfer, a challenge she looks forward to.

"I'm pretty excited to come back out here, to be fair," Zhang said. "Actually, school stresses me out a little bit more than golf does."