Rose Zhang smiles after winning the Mizuho Americas Open in her professional debut Sunday in Jersey City, N.J. Zhang beat Jennifer Kupcho on the second hole of a playoff. Adam Hunger/Associated Press

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Rose Zhang lived up to all the pre-tournament hype as the next great women’s golfer – at least in her first week as a pro.

The two-time NCAA champion became the first player in 72 years to win on the LPGA Tour in her pro debut, capturing the Mizuho Americas Open with a par on the second playoff hole against Jennifer Kupcho on Sunday.

Zhang arrived on the LPGA Tour with the most fanfare since Michelle Wie West in 2005, and she delivered in the shadow of the Big Apple.

“I just can’t believe it,” Zhang said. “It was just last week when I won NCAAs with my teammates, and to turn pro and come out here, it’s just been amazing. I’ve enjoyed the journey.”

The span was actually 13 days.

The last female player to win as a pro in her debut was Beverly Hanson, who edged Babe Zaharias to take the Eastern Open in 1951.


Zhang shot a 2-over 74 in the final round and squandered a chance to win the event on the 72nd hole when she missed an 8-foot par saver after making at least a half dozen clutch saves in a gritty final round performance.

The much-heralded 20-year-old from Stanford made a nearly identical 8-footer on No. 18 at Liberty National on the first playoff hole. Kupcho, who won an NCAA title at Wake Forest in 2018 and caught Zhang with a final-round 69, also made a par.

Both players hit the fairway on No. 18 on the second playoff hole, but Zhang’s approach stopped within 10 feet of the cup. Kupcho was short on her approach, her first putt went just over the back edge of the green, and her second putt just missed. That left Zhang with a two-putt par to win.

Zhang, playing on a sponsor exemption, did not have a birdie in her final round and finished at 9-under 279.

She turned pro last week after the NCAAs, and much was expected right away. She was the top-ranked women’s amateur for 141 weeks and won every big women’s amateur event – the U.S. Women’s Amateur, the U.S. Junior Girls, the NCAAs and the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.

Sunday’s victory was worth $412,500, and Zhang earned automatic LPGA Tour membership.


PGA: Viktor Hovland handled the toughest stretch at Muirfield Village and delivered three clutch putts at the end to win the Memorial in a playoff over hard-luck Denny McCarthy in Dublin, Ohio.

Hovland closed with a 2-under 70 on a course baked all week by sun, forcing the playoff with a 30-foot birdie on the 17th – the only one on that hole in the final round – and saving par from behind the 18th green.

Back to the 18th in the playoff, Hovland barely got onto the front of the green, some 60 feet away from the back pin, and two-putted by holing a 7-foot par putt.

Hovland’s previous three wins were twice at Mayakoba on the Gulf coast of Mexico and once in Puerto Rico. This victory came in conditions so difficult that even Jack Nicklaus was stunned to feel how firm the greens were when he stepped on the 18th to congratulate Hovland.

“It feels really cool to get my first win on the U.S. soil, especially at a tournament like this where this the golf course is arguably harder than most major championship golf courses we play,” Hovland said. “It felt like a major. So it was really cool that I was able to get it done at a place like this.”

It was a crushing loss for McCarthy, one of the purest putters on the PGA Tour. His only bogeys came on the 18th hole – twice.


McCarthy had a one-shot lead when he missed the 18th fairway to the left, pitched out to the fairway and narrowly missed a 25-foot par putt for the win. In the playoff, his shot from the right rough rolled back off the green some 50 yards away. He pitched to 12 feet, and the putt caught the left edge and spun away.

“I’m heartbroken right now,” McCarthy said, emotion in his voice after his closest call to win on the PGA Tour in his 156th attempt.

CHAMPIONS TOUR: Stephen Ames birdied the 17th hole and closed with a 5-under 67 for a one-shot victory over Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly in the Principal Charity Classic at Des Moines, Iowa, giving Ames his third PGA Tour Champions title this year.

Stricker, coming off his second straight major title this year at the Senior PGA Championship, played bogey-free for a 68. Kelly shot a 65 but had to settle for par on the 18th.

EUROPEAN TOUR: Tom McKibbin held off a challenge from Germany’s Marcel Siem and Maximilian Kieffer to win the European Open in Hamburg, Germany.

The 20-year-old from Northern Ireland started the final round as one of six players tied for the lead at 6 under. He finished his round of 3-under 70 with a birdie on the par-5 18th after missing an eagle putt, earning his first title on the European tour by two shots.

Siem (71) and Kieffer (70), both bidding to become the first German in 15 years to win a tour event on home soil, shared second place along with French player Julien Guerrier (72).

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