Stanford’s Zhang first to win consecutive titles

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Stanford’s Rose Zhang shot a bogey-free, 4-under 68 on Monday to become the first women’s golfer to win consecutive national titles and tie the NCAA record for wins in a season.

It’s the latest triumph for Zhang, who had already swept the most important amateur titles in women’s golf. Zhang, who turns 20 on Wednesday, won the U.S. Women’s Amateur in 2020, the U.S. Girls’ Junior in 2021 and the Augusta National Women’s Amateur this April.

Leading by one after San Jose State’s Lucia Lopez-Ortega made consecutive bogeys, Zhang saved par on Grayhawk Golf Club’s par-4 17th hole with a delicate chip and tapped in for par on No. 18 to become the first woman to win multiple national titles.

Zhang finished at 10 under to match former Arizona player and LPGA Hall of Famer Lorena Ochoa’s NCAA records for wins in a season (eight) and career (12). Her 12 wins breaks the Stanford record for men or women, held by Tiger Woods and three others.

Zhang helped Stanford secure the top seed heading into Tuesday’s match play in its bid to win consecutive national titles.

Lopez-Ortega closed out her round with a birdie to shoot 71. She tied for second at 9 under with Southern California’s Catherine Park, who missed a short birdie putt on the par-5 18th that would have tied her with Zhang.

Zhang, who’s from Irvine, California, had a record-breaking freshman season, setting the NCAA’s single-season scoring mark at 69.68 while winning individual and team championships. She has been even better this season, arriving in the desert with a 68.70 scoring average.

Zhang’s win is her eighth in 10 starts as a sophomore, including the Pac-12 Championships and the NCAA Pullman Regional.

Zhang made up a four-shot deficit quickly on Park, the overnight leader, by turning the front nine in 3-under 33 at Grayhawk’s Raptor Course. Zhang rolled in a birdie on the par-5 11th to reach 10 under, but Lopez-Ortega tied her with a birdie on the par-3 fifth after starting on the front nine.

Starting on No. 10, Lopez-Ortega offset a bogey on the par-5 11th with a birdie on No. 14 and a two-putt birdie on the par-5 18th. The sophomore from Madrid tied Zhang at 10 under with a birdie on the par-3 fifth hole, but had bogeys on Nos. 7 and 8 before the closing birdie.

Park got better as the season progressed, tying for second at the Silverado Showdown and tying for third at the Pac-12 Championships.

Zhang took a two-shot lead into the final round at Grayhawk by tying the NCAA record with a 64 in the second round and a 71 on Sunday.

Park sandwiched two birdies around a bogey on the short par-4 sixth hole in the final individual round, then had a two-putt birdie on the par-5 seventh. She saved par when a fast-running chip on the par-3 hit the flagstick, but made bogey on the par-4 ninth.

Park pushed her lead back to two with a curling putt on the par-4 12th, but a three-putt down a steep slope on the par-4 15th dropped her a shot behind when Zhang dropped in a birdie at No. 11.

Park hit a good chip shot from just short of the 18th hole, but pushed the birdie putt right.

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