On a chilly and cloudy day in Jersey City, Rose Zhang fought through the windy conditions and found herself at the top of the leaderboard. The recently-turned professional started her day off strong with a birdie on No. 1, grouped with three more birdies on the front nine. As she catapulted herself up the leaderboard after her first nine, she continued her strong round with two more birdies on Nos. 14 and 15. The 20 year-old’s third-round 66 was one of just two bogey-free scores today, alongside LPGA Tour Rookie Hae Ran Ryu. In her first LPGA Tour event as a professional, Zhang came out of the gates ready to compete in her third round and speaks to her position headed into the final round.
“I think it's just great to be in that position. It just shows that leading up the last three days you've been doing a great job at playing your best on the golf course. And I think that for me, I've been in this position before, but I haven't been in this position as a professional, since this is my first week, so I'm really just learning everything that I could. Tomorrow I'll be just trying to figure out what it feels like to be in the final group, navigate my way through, and I'm sure by the end of the day I'll be able to, you know, just build my character more.”
Following behind the back-to-back NCAA Women’s Golf Champion are three players tied for second at nine-under including Thai player Atthaya Thitikul, 2017 LPGA Tour Rookie Aditi Ashok and 2019 Volunteers of America Classic champion Cheyenne Knight. Both Thitikul and Ashok shot 68 in their third rounds, moving them up from a tie in fourth. With one bogey and an eagle on the day, Thitikul can credit her score to her 28 putts and 14 of 14 fairways hit. In comparison, Ashok had a solo bogey on the back nine and total of 25 putts, tying her for third in putting among players in the third round. Knight’s steady two-under 70 today kept her in contention and confident headed into the last round.
“I just think having honest conversations with myself of what I need to do to get better at and what I'm good at the time,” said Knight on her final-round approach as she sits two shots behind the leader in the clubhouse. “Yeah, and I think just mentally trying to get stronger and learn from being in contention, because, I mean, last year I wasn't really ever in contention and this year I've been in contention a lot so far. But just continuing to learn and grow through all of that.”
In solo third is Cognizant Founders Cup runner-up Minjee Lee sitting at seven-under after an even par round, just four shots behind Zhang. Tomorrow she will be paired with LPGA Tour Rookie Hae Ryan Ryu, who climbed the leaderboard to a tie for sixth alongside Jennifer Kupcho and Eun-Hee Ji.
On the AJGA side of the Mizuho Americas Open are amateurs Yana Wilson and Anna Davis in a tie for first. Wilson held steady her first-place position despite her struggle on the back nine. Starting the day in a tie for eleventh and jumping ten spots, Davis scored 43 points on Saturday including six birdies and one eagle while being paired with LPGA Tour pros Emma Talley and Marina Alex.
“It's definitely been a fun event so far. Getting to play with the pros was super fun. I played in a few tour events last summer, so being in this environment again is very fun,” said Davis, who has verbally committed to playing college golf at Auburn University. “It's a great experience for me and for the other girls as well to be able to measure our games against their games and see what we can work on and things like that. They picked a great venue for it, too.”
Tomorrow, both an AJGA junior and LPGA Tour player will walk away from Liberty National Golf Club as champions of the inaugural Mizuho Americas Open. Not only will players have the New York City skyline in view as they arrive to the course tomorrow, but they will also have their eyes set on the first-ever Mizuho Americas Open trophy.