During the third round of the Girls Junior PGA Championship, Rose Zhang gained control of the lead and never looked back.
The 14-year-old claimed victory and tied another Championship record on Friday on the Lewis and Clark Course at the Country Club of St. Albans.
Zhang, of Irvine, California, closed the Championship with a 4-under 68 to reach 20-under 268, tying Kristen Gillman’s 2014 performance for lowest 72-hole total in this event’s 42-year history. In the process, she totaled one eagle, 22 birdies and four bogeys. Yealimi Noh, of Concord, California, finished runner-up at 274.
“When I first came, I didn’t have any expectations,” said Zhang, who is the proud recipient of the Patty Berg Trophy. “I was just trying to play my own game and complete the four-day tournament.”
With three birdies through her first six holes on Friday, Zhang was in position to run away with the Championship. However, a bogey at the par-4 9th trimmed her lead to three as she made the turn.
Par golf ensued for Zhang early on the back nine, and a birdie by Noh on the par-5 14th cut the lead to two. No sweat for the Champion, as she responded with birdies on 15 and 16. A double-bogey suffered by Noh on the 16th pushed the difference to six.
“I think I played well under pressure and allowed myself to be in this position,” said Zhang, who didn’t miss a fairway in the final round.
Playing in her second Girls Junior PGA Championship, Noh improved from a T-21 last year. While the lead proved insurmountable, she played a steady final round and posted a 2-under 70.
Defending Champion Lucy Li finished in a tie for third (276) after a 2-under 70. Joining Li on the leaderboard were Michaela Morard, who carded a final round 5-under 67, and Angelina Ye, who matched Li’s Friday total.
The low score of the final round belonged to 2015 Champion, Elizabeth Wang. She jumped 18 spots into a tie for 11th after firing a 7-under 65.
Zhang penned her name in the record book all week. In addition to matching the lowest 72-hole total, she tied the lowest second and third round scores, as well as set a new 54-hole scoring record. Not bad for a 14-year-old who has yet to enter high school.
“Overall, I’m just extremely humbled and blessed to be here.”