Jersey City, New Jersey: Rose Zhang became the first player to win on the LPGA in her pro debut Sunday, capturing the Mizuho Americas Open with a par on the second playoff hole to beat Jennifer Kupcho and earn LPGA membership.
Zhang went from two-time NCAA champion to LPGA winner in a span of 13 days with a remarkable debut that lived up to the fanfare in the shadow of Manhattan.
She closed with a 2-over 74, missing an 8-foot par putt on the final hole at Liberty National to fall into a playoff with Kupcho (69).
On the first playoff hole, Zhang made an 8-footer for par and Kupcho made from 4 feet. Returning to the 18th again, Zhang hit a long approach to 8 feet for a chance at birdie. Kupcho came up short, went just over the back and made bogey. Zhang two-putted for the win.
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.
Players celebrated with the 20-year-old from Stanford by handing her red roses. The victory was worth $412,500 and it also earned Zhang an automatic LPGA Tour membership.