No. 1 Zhang Beats Bae in Playoff, Wins Augusta National Women’s Amateur

Rose Zhang didn’t have her best stuff, so she simply toughed it out.

Zhang, the No. 1-ranked women’s amateur in the world from Stanford and Irvine, made a par on the second playoff hole to turn back Jenny Bae of Suwanee, Ga., and win the fourth Augusta National Women’s Amateur in breezy conditions at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga.

“Rose, you are now just as much a part of Augusta National as all the players who have won the Masters,” Chairman Fred Ridley of Augusta National told the 19-year-old Zhang during the trophy presentation ceremony in Butler Cabin.

Zhang blew a five-stroke in the third and final round, which she started with a double-bogey 6 on the first hole, and Bae came from six shots down to tie for the lead with birdies on the 13th and 17th holes.

Both players parred the first extra hole, No. 10, but on the second playoff hole Bae hit her approach shot into the trees, knocked her second into a greenside bunker and left herself a seven-foot bogey putt.

Zhang rolled her 30-foot putt to within inches of the hole and tapped in for the winning par.

“This is so sweet and I’m so thankful to all of my family and friends for being here to witness it on this great course,” said Zhang, who has nine college victories at Stanford to tie Andrea Lee’s school record. “It was a long day with the weather delay and the playoff, but I’m just happy I was able to battle to come out on top and I’m proud of that.

“I actually was composed and calm on the first tee, but then I got a little tight on my first tee shot and hit it into the bunker, and got off to a slow start. I was spraying my shots right and left for a while, but then I figured something out with my grip, made an adjustment on the back nine and started hitting the ball well. I was stroking my drives the rest of the way.

“I’m just so thankful and blessed to win this event. It feels just amazing.”

Among Zhang’s earlier victories were the 2020 U.S. Women’s Amateur, the 2021 U.S. Girls’ Junior and the 2022 NCAA individual national championship, so she completed an amateur grand slam of sorts.

Zhang finished with a score of 66-65-76—207, nine-under-par, which Bae equaled at 69-68-70—207, while Andrea Lignell of Sweden and Ole Miss finished third at 67-69-74—210, followed by Cayetana Fernandez Garcia-Poggio of Spain, the 2022 World Junior Girls champion, at 73-69-71—213.

“I’m just proud of myself, the way I came from six shots back,” said Bae, who captured the 2021 Georgia Women’s Open. “I looked at the scoreboard at one time and was six shots behind, so I just kept playing hard and when I looked again, I saw I was one down and knew I had a chance to win.

“I was really nervous and tense at the start, but then I settled down and stayed patient the rest of the way. When I got to the last couple holes, I knew I had a chance to win and just had to trust my game. I had great support from the Georgia fans and really appreciate them.

“I just made one bad swing on the second playoff hole, then hit the ball too hard out of the rough, and that was it.”

Saki Baba of Japan, the 2022 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion, shot 74-70-70—214 to tie for fifth with Jiyoo Lim of South Korea, who shot 71-71-72—214, and Hsin—Yu Lu of Taiwan and the University of Oregon, who would up at 71-70-73—214.

Mehga Ganne of Stanford and Holmdel, N.J., totaled 73-70-74—217 to tie for ninth with Jennie Park of Texas A&M and Carrollton, Texas, who finished at 75-69-73—217, Yuna Araki of Japan, who wound up at 72-72-73—217, and Caitlyn Macnab of South Africa who came in at 71-70-76—217.

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