Rose Zhang races to lead in Augusta National Women’s Amateur after record 66; Anna Davis scored with a four-stroke penalty

EVANS, Ga. — Rose Zhang said her father Haibin feverishly swept away the pine needles that were in the line of her 50-foot birdie putt on the 14th Hole Wednesday at Champions Retreat.

“He did it like a madman,” Zhang said, “and I reluctantly told him to calm down by trying to help me get the little things out of the way.”

Senior Zhang emptied the putt and later thanked his father for the support. It was one of six birdies that day for Zhang, who posted a record 6-under 66 at the Champions Retreat, beating the previous record of 68 maps held by 2019 champion Jennifer Kupcho and Zoe Campos in the opening round of the opening event were set up. Zhang has shagged all four par 5s and leads Ole Miss senior Andrea Lignell by a shot.

“Since the round is so soft and muddy,” Zhang said, “I can’t really expect more from my game today.”

ANWA: photos

A dozen players broke parity on a sun-soaked day in Evans, Georgia, where more than five inches of rain fell earlier in the week, forcing officials to bring preferred lies into play. Unfortunately for 2022 champion Anna Davis, She received a four-stroke penalty after the round because she twice picked up her ball in the rough on the first hole. The model local rule stipulated that the ball may only be picked up in areas cut at fairway level or less.

Davis, informed of the potential penalty on the fourth tee, doubled that hole and then bogeyed on the fifth. However, she made four birdies to give herself another chance to make the cut. Top 30 players and ties after 36 holes advance to the finals at Augusta National. Davis is 4-76 with her five on the opening hole turning to a nine after the round.

“I had a good round if you don’t count the first hole,” said Davis, who appeared to be in overall good spirits when speaking to the media after the round.

The cutting line now falls past 2.

Swede Lignell rode a hot putter to 67 and attributed her good play this collegiate season to a “putting project” she started that focused on the greens for about an hour of each practice. She won her first two college titles last fall. Three weeks ago she also put a new putter in her bag.

“I expected to do about as well,” said Lignell, a biomedical engineering student. “It’s so much fun. It’s incredible.”

Zhang, 19, has won everything that counts in amateur sports except the ANWA. She is the only player, along with Pat Hurst and Tiger Woods, to have won US amateur, US junior and NCAA championships.

Zhang, a winner of nine collegiate events in two years at Stanford, said her father will be on the bag Thursday but that she could switch to an Augusta National caddy for the finals. When asked how dad has improved as a caddie over the years, Zhang said he’s definitely calmed down and she doesn’t have to show him around like she used to.

“He’s still a very energetic person,” she said, “and I think that goes really well with my laid-back self when I’m on the golf course.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek

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