Golf

LPGA rookie Rose Zhang to represent U.S. at Solheim Cup

LPGA rookie Rose Zhang will represent the United States when it plays Europe in next month’s Solheim Cup in Spain.

Zhang and four other players, Jennifer Kupcho, Danielle Kang, Andrea Lee and Lexi Thompson, were confirmed Monday as the final automatic qualifiers for the U.S. team that will compete against Europe at Finca Cortesin in Andalucia, Spain, on Sept. 22-24.

World No. 1 golfer Lilia Vu, world No. 2 Nelly Korda, U.S. Women’s Open winner Allisen Corpuz and Megan Khang had previously qualified for the squad.

U.S. team captain Stacy Lewis rounded out the team with three captain’s picks, selecting Ally Ewing, Cheyenne Knight and Angel Yin.

Zhang, a rookie from Stanford, and Thompson qualified for the squad by being the highest-ranked American players in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Ranking not otherwise eligible for the team.

Zhang, 20, was a two-time NCAA individual national champion at Stanford and won the Augusta National Women’s Amateur in April. On June 4, she won the Mizuho Americas Open in her first LPGA start. She became the first woman since Beverly Hanson in 1951 to win in her LPGA debut.

Zhang was part of two winning U.S. Junior Solheim Cup teams as an amateur.

“It’s going to be incredible,” Zhang told ESPN. “I mean, even at the start of the professional career that I’ve had in the last three months, I never thought that I would be able to have a position on the team because you have to be a member of the LPGA Tour.

“So the fact that I was able to become a member in my first event, that really just gave me a glimmer of hope to make the Solheim Cup. I played in two Solheim Cups in my junior golf career. Those weeks have been one of the most memorable weeks that I’ve ever had as a junior golfer.”

Lee, another former Stanford player, grabbed the final automatic spot in Solheim Cup points by tying for 13th at the CPKC Women’s Open in Canada on Sunday, the exact finish she needed to move from eighth to seventh.

“I was pretty stressed coming down the stretch today because I knew I had to finish top 13 to not have to rely on a captain’s pick,” Lee told reporters in Canada on Sunday. “I’m just super grateful and honored to represent the USA. It’s been a dream of mine ever since I was a little girl. I played on two Junior Solheim Cup teams and have always wanted to play on the real Solheim Cup team. I’m just so excited and I can’t wait to play for Stacy and for Team USA.”

The Americans will have at least four Solheim Cup rookies on their team when they try to end a two-match losing streak to the Europeans. The U.S. last won 16½-11½ at Des Moines Golf and Country Club in Iowa in 2017. The Americans’ last victory on foreign soil was a 14 ½-13 ½ win at Golf Club St. Leon-Rot in Germany in 2015.

“I am so excited to have these nine players on the team for the 2023 Solheim Cup,” Lewis said in a statement. “The last year has been exciting — and challenging — and to have these players locked in has me pumped for the week in Spain. Even the rookies aren’t true rookies in my eyes. Over the last two years, they have proven to be great competitors and I have no doubt that they won’t be overwhelmed by the experience. When we add in the captain’s picks, this is definitely going to be a very strong team.”

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