Golf: Top-ranked amateur Zhang announces decision to turn professional

FILE PHOTO: Rose Zhang of the U.S. poses with the trophy after winning the Augusta National Women’s Amateur at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, U.S., April 1, 2023. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

(Reuters) - American Rose Zhang, who has earned virtually every women's amateur golf accomplishment so far in her decorated career, announced on Friday that she is turning professional.

The 20-year-old Stanford sophomore, who leaves the amateur ranks having held top spot in the women's world amateur golf ranking for a record 141 consecutive weeks, will make her pro debut at the LPGA's June 1-4 Mizuho Americas Open in New Jersey.

"The endless love, support and inspiration from so many people brought me to this point of my golf career," Zhang wrote on Instagram.

"From my team mates to my coaches and trainers, to my friends and my family – you have all been integral in my journey, shaping me as a person and player while making sacrifices for my success. You have made it possible for me to pursue my dreams."

In her two seasons at Stanford, Zhang won 12 times in 20 starts, surpassing, among others, Tiger Woods for most victories in the school's history.

After her announcement Zhang was given special exemption into three majors: the June 22-25 Women's PGA Championship at Baltusrol, July 6-9 U.S. Women's Open at Pebble Beach and Aug. 10-13 Women's Open in Surrey, England.

Earlier this week, Zhang won the NCAA individual title for a second consecutive year, making her the first women to do so.

Her other achievements include victories at the 2020 U.S. Women's Amateur, 2021 U.S. Girls' Junior and 2023 Augusta National Women's Amateur.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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