Rose Zhang, of Irvine, Calif., has been granted a special exemption by the USGA into the 2023 U.S. Women’s Open Championship, which will be conducted July 6-9 at Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links. The 20-year-old, who was previously exempt prior to turning professional, is set to make her fifth consecutive appearance in the championship.
“Competing in the U.S. Women’s Open is always a special experience, and being granted an exemption into the first at Pebble Beach is truly an honor,” said Zhang. “This is a big moment for our sport, and I’m very appreciative of the USGA for the opportunity to be part of it.”
The three-time McCormack Medal winner left the amateur ranks having held the top position in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking for a record 141 consecutive weeks, dating back to September 2020. Zhang, who received the 2022 and 2023 Annika Award as the nation’s top female collegiate golfer and claimed the 2022 and 2023 NCAA individual titles, built one of golf’s most accomplished amateur careers, including victories at the 2020 U.S. Women’s Amateur, 2021 U.S. Girls’ Junior and 2023 Augusta National Women’s Amateur. Her 12 wins, earned in just 20 starts, in NCAA competition are the most in Stanford history.
“The U.S. Women’s Open is the greatest test of golf for the best players in the game, and that certainly includes Rose, who had a once-in-a-generation amateur career,” said USGA Chief Championships Officer John Bodenhamer. “With the first of many U.S. Women’s Opens coming to Pebble Beach, and young, talented players in the field like Rose, the future of the women’s game is undeniably bright.”
Zhang became the eighth player to win both the U.S. Girls’ Junior and U.S. Women’s Amateur, but the only one to claim the Women’s Amateur first. She bested defending champion Gabriela Ruffels in 38 holes in the 2020 U.S. Women’s Amateur at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Md., and, a year later, she won the U.S. Girls’ Junior by way of victory over Bailey Davis, 6 and 4, at Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, Md. Zhang has represented the USA in the Curtis Cup, Arnold Palmer Cup, Women’s World Amateur Team Championships, Junior Solheim Cup, Junior Ryder Cup and Pan American Games.
At age 16, Zhang made her U.S. Women’s Open debut with a T-55 finish at the Country Club of Charleston (S.C.) and recorded her best finish in the championship with a T-40 result last year at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club in Southern Pines, N.C. Her best finish in a major championship came at the 2020 ANA Inspiration when she tied for 11th and earned low-amateur honors.
Zhang joins past champions Annika Sorenstam, of Sweden, and So Yeon Ryu, of the Republic of Korea, as recipients of special exemptions into this year’s field. A record 2,107 entries were accepted for this year’s championship. Qualifying is being conducted at 26 sites and concludes on June 7.