Rose Zhang satisfied with leaderboard surge at Kroger Queen City Championship as LPGA rookie contends again

LPGA rookie phenom Rose Zhang has struggled over the last few weeks, but she has found her form at the Kroger Queen City Championship.

She fired off a 4-under 68 on Friday to sit at 6-under in the tournament. Zhang is currently eight shots off leader Peiyun Chien, but anything could happen.

After her 2-under 70 during the first round, Zhang flipped a switch.

“Today was a lot better. I felt like I was rolling my putts well,” Zhang said. “I was hitting where I needed to be. In the middle of the round, I had little slight mishaps, but overall, I’m very satisfied with the way I’m playing and how I’m committing to every single shot.”

On Friday, she started on the back nine, where the two-time NCAA individual champion made four birdies. When Zhang made the turn, she made a bogey on the par-4 1st and par-3 3rd. The opening three-hole stretch is one of the most difficult parts of the Kendale Course at Kenwood Country Club in Cincinnati, Ohio.

“It’s a game of precision, and being able to put the ball where you need to be is quite crucial,” Zhang said.

Rose Zhang during the second round of the 2023 Kroger Queen City Championship.
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

“I would say approach shots. Some holes tend to bounce out — some holes tend to spin. Knowing how to hit your yardages and getting those numbers dialed in… But these greens are also very slippery.”

Zhang hit 13-of-14 fairways and 14-of-18 greens in regulation. The 20-year-old put together the round she needed on Friday to play smart but aggressively on Saturday.

“Tomorrow, the game plan is going to be the same, and I’m going to try to do what I can to give myself more opportunities but keep it simple,” Zhang said. “Moving day, if opportunities arise, I’m going to try to take them. If they don’t, I’ll just be patient.”

Zhang will have to wait for the afternoon round to see who she’ll tee off with for moving day, but right now, the rookie sits in a great spot to capitalize.

Savannah Leigh Richardson is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. You can follow her on Twitter @SportsGirlSL and Instagram @savannah_leigh_sports for more golf coverage. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough too.