It’s not often a young professional golfer gets to hear their name in the same breath as Tiger Woods – but Rose Zhang isn’t an ordinary golfer. Zhang is a rising star on the LPGA Tour and quickly made an impact on the circuit as soon as she left the amateur ranks.
At Stanford, Zhang was stellar. She was a two-time NCAA champion, a Pac-12 Conference champion and won the Augusta National Women’s Amateur. Zhang had 12 wins in 20 starts for the Cardinal, besting Woods’ record – he had 11 victories in 26 appearances.
When Zhang became the first golfer to win in her LPGA Tour debut since Beverly Hanson in 1951, Woods gave Zhang a shout-out on X, the social media company formerly known as Twitter.
“Incredible few weeks for Rose Zhang, defends her NCAA title and then wins in her Pro debut. Go card!” he wrote.
The 20-year-old rising star explained to Fox News Digital in a recent interview that she was unsure of what to think of the comparisons to one of the greatest golfers of all time.
“When it first initially became a thing where Tiger and I were in the same conversation, it was almost hard to believe because Tiger is arguably the greatest player to exist,” she said. “He completely modernized our game. It was such a high regard, and I was kind of flabbergasted by how people would compare me and him.”
“Over time, it’s always something you hear, but it’s not something I really let into my mind on a daily basis. It’s more of kind of background noise where you hear the conversation; you acknowledge that it’s there, but it’s not necessarily a prominent part of how I live my life. And I guess that really helps because I can differentiate conversation and background noise versus reality and what I’m doing in the present.”
Starting her professional career with a win set high expectations for Zhang. She won the Mizuho Americas Open in a playoff against Jennifer Kupcho.
But she’s been able to get great advice from some of the veterans on the tour like Michelle Wie West and the legendary Annika Sorenstam.
“I’ve been really fortunate to have so many players support me and reach out to me, regardless of whether I had a question about something, whether it was building my team or just understanding how the LPGA schedule works,” Zhang told Fox News Digital.
“Michelle Wie is one of the people that has really come to me and said if you have any questions, seriously, let me know. Our career paths are somewhat falling along the same lines since I am going back to school in the winter. So, with that in mind, she’s gone through this route of balancing education and balancing professional golf. She’s really taught me to not only enjoy it but also to really just live life, have a bit of fun.
“Along those lines, Annika Sorenstam has always told, not only the press but even to me, where she would always have this line of ‘smell the roses.’ As cliché as it sounds, it’s much harder to do than actually to say. When you’re playing well, when things are happening in a whirlwind, when everything is going really quickly, it’s still important to take a step back and to realize your surroundings, which I find very insightful.”
Zhang, who spoke to Fox News Digital on behalf of her new partnership with Uswing, said she wants fans who are going to follow her career to know that what they see on the course is who she is in real life.
“For people out there who follow along with me, I will say that I’d just like to let them know that I’m a pretty realistic and genuine person, player on and off the golf course. Everything I do on the golf course is authentic and genuine. Everything I do off the golf course is also who I am.”
“I’m human. I’m trying my best to live my life with my career. And at the same time, I also want to work toward inspiring people around me, inspiring those that I care about, those who are younger, older, etc.”
The next LPGA Tour tournament begins on Aug. 17 – the ISPS World Invite. It will take place at Galgorm Golf Club in Northern Ireland.