Everyone knows how good Rose Zhang, the No. 1-ranked women’s amateur golfer in the world is, but the rest of the Stanford team has stood up this season in the wake of injuries to standout players Rachel Heck, the 2021 NCAA individual champion, and Brooke Seay, an All-American in 2022.
The defending NCAA champion Cardinal have won the Carmel Cup, the Stanford Intercollegiate, the Pac-12 Preview, the Stephen’s Cup and the Juli Inkster at Meadowclub Invitational to again lead the national rankings.
Zhang, who on her own captured the Augusta National Women’s Amateur recently, also has had victories this season in the Carmel Cup, the Stanford Intercollegiate, the Pac-12 Preview, the Therese Hession Regional Challenge and the Juli Inkster Invitational to tie the Cardinal record for career victories of nine set by Andrea Lee.
“I greatly wanted to win this to go with my wins at Stanford, and it was just such a huge desire,” Zhang said of her monumental victory at Augusta National. “Just getting the invite is a special moment, let alone playing in the final round all four times (that she has participated). Augusta National is a true testament to our game.
“It’s’ an honor to play and win there.”
Said Stanford Coach Anne Walker, who walked the course at Augusta National along with several of Zhang’s Stanford teammates: “Rose was walking a tight rope all day (in the final round). It was just great to see that last putt go in. We’ve all known how good she is and this simply verified it.”
While Zhang has stepped up her game in college events with Heck and Seay out this season, the Cardinal also have had strong performances this season from freshman Megha Ganne, who has four top-10 finishes; junior Sadie Englemann, who has three top-10 results; senior Angela Ye, freshman Kelly Yu and sophomore Caroline Sturdza.
“We have really come together as a team to make up for the injuries,” Walker said. “It’s fair to say we aren’t the same team we were at the beginning of the Fall, but we still have shown a lot of fight to remain where we are on the course and in the rankings.
“We want to win another NCAA title.”
While Stanford remains No. 1, San Jose State is ranked No. 12, USC is No 15, UCLA is No. 24, Pepperdine is No 25, California is No 44, Sacramento State is No. 62 after winning the Wyoming Cowgirl Classic for their third victory of the season, Long Beach State is No. 81, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo is No. 92 and San Diego State is 96th in the national women’s rankings.
“We want to fight for a national championship,” Coach Dana Dormann of San Jose State said. “We are trying to give our players all the tools they need to be successful. … One, I think the tradition of San Jose State golf. All the players that have come before, the history. Two, we have an incredible practice center on campus, and three, we play in high quality tournaments.”
Individually, obviously Zhang, a sophomore from Irvine, is ranked No. 1 in the nation, while Zoe Campos of UCLA is No. 11, Megha Ganne is No. 13, Kajsa Arwefjall of San Jose State in No. 17, Sadie Englemann is No. 26, Amari Avery of USC is No. 37, Jeneath Wong of Pepperdine is No. 39, Lion Higo of Pepperdine is No. 47, Antonia Malate of San Jose State is No. 50, Cindy Kou of USC is No. 56, Caroline Canales of UCLA is No. 60, Brooke Seay still is No. 77 despite her injury, Catherine Park of USC in No. 97 and Lucia Lopez-Ortega of San Jose State is No. 99.