Rookie Rose Zhang needs a break. Now in her fifth week of competition in Asia at the Toto Japan Classic, Zhang hopes to end the lengthy overseas stretch on a high note after taking a share of third last week at the Maybank Championship. Zhang’s Asian tour began on the Ladies European Tour with the Aramco Team Series event in Hong Kong followed by LPGA stops in China, South Korea, Malaysia and now Japan.
“I’m feeling a little dead,” said Zhang. “I’m not going to lie. It’s been quite a long journey, I would say. Even though it’s only five weeks, it’s still a pretty significant toll on the body. So I’m kind of glad this will be my last one.”
The 46th playing of the Toto Japan Classic, which is co-sanctioned by the LPGA and the LPGA of Japan Tour, takes place this week at the Taiheiyo Club Minori Course.
Zhang, who famously won her first start as a professional at the Mizuho Americas Open in June, is one of 78 players in a field that consists of 43 LPGA members and 35 JLPGA members. Hyo Joo Kim (No. 7) is the only top-10 player in the field this week.
Though Zhang came off her sophomore season at Stanford red hot with four top-10 finishes in her first five starts, her most recent top 10 prior to last week came at the Amundi Evian Championship in July.
Rose Zhang hugs her caddie Olly Brett after a birdie putt on the 18th green during the third round of the 2023 Maybank Championship at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Photo: Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)
Last week, Zhang had a new caddie, Olly Brett, on the bag after she parted ways with veteran looper Jason Gilroyed after the Solheim Cup. Brett, who worked for Danielle Kang and Mike Weir earlier this year, will be with Zhang through the end of the season.
“I think Olly makes a huge difference,” said Zhang last week at the Maybank Championship, “especially with us just enjoying the golf course and having a good time.”
Currently No. 26 in the world, Zhang is one of eight rookies in the field, joined by Celine Borge, Minami Katsu, Yan Liu, Yuna Nishimura, Bailey Tardy, Chanettee Wannasaen and Arpichaya Yubol.
While Zhang currently sits third in the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, she does not have a mathematical chance to win it because she is not signed up for next week’s event in Florida, The Annika driven by Gainbridge at Pelican. Zhang would have to win all three remaining events on the schedule to have a chance.
Hae Ran Ryu’s 847 points lead Grace Kim by 255 points and Yuna Nishimura by 410 points.
Zhang, who has 473 points, was not given the 150 points for her Mizuho Americas victory toward her total because she was not yet a member of the tour.