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Solheim Cup: LPGA rookie, former Stanford star Rose Zhang earns spot with U.S. team

Rose Zhang won her LPGA professional debut in June after winning back-to-back NCAA titles at Stanford

Former Stanford star and LPGA Tour rookie Rose Zhang will join the United States for the Solheim Cup this fall.

Zhang was one of five players who earned the last automatic qualifying spots for the U.S. team on Monday. She was joined by Jennifer Kupcho, Danielle Kang, Andrea Lea and Lexi Thompson. Top-ranked Lilia Vu, Nelly Korda, Allisen Corpuz and Megan Khang had already earned spots on the team.

U.S. captain Stacy Lewis then selected Ally Ewing, Cheyenne Knight and Angel Yin as her three captain’s picks to round out the 12-player squad.

The Solheim Cup, similar to the Ryder Cup on the men’s side, will pit the United States against Europe at Finca Cortesin in Andalucia, Spain, starting Sept. 22.

Zhang, who played in a pair of U.S. Junior Solheim Cups as an amateur, made her LPGA debut as a professional in June.

"It's going to be incredible," Zhang told ESPN on Monday. "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."

Zhang was arguably the best women’s amateur golfer in history. She won back-to-back individual NCAA titles while at Stanford, which made her the first woman to do so at the Division I level, and she won 12 of the 20 college tournaments she played. For comparison, Tiger Woods won 11 times in his 26 starts while at Stanford. Zhang was the top-ranked amateur in the world for a record 141 consecutive weeks before she turned pro in May.

In her very first LPGA start, Zhang won the Mizuho Americas Open in a playoff — which made her the first to win on the LPGA Tour in her professional debut since 1951 and the first to win an NCAA Division I title and an LPGA Tour event in the same season. She accomplished that feat in a two-week span.

Rose Zhang and the United States team will take on Europe in the Solheim Cup next month in Spain.
Rose Zhang and the United States team will take on Europe in the Solheim Cup next month in Spain. (David Cannon/Getty Images)

Zhang has made seven starts this season on the LPGA Tour. She has missed the cut just once and has four top-10 finishes. She finished T41 last week at the CPKC Womens’ Open in Vancouver.

Both Zhang and Thompson earned spots on the Solheim Cup team by being the highest-ranking American players not already eligible for the team on the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. Zhang entered last week’s event at No. 31, and Thompson was No. 21.

Europe has won the past two Solheim Cups, most recently with a 15-13 win at the Inverness Club in Ohio in 2021. The United States’ last victory came at Des Moines Golf and Country Club in Iowa in 2017. The U.S. team's last win in Europe came in 2015 in Germany.

“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.”