Rose Zhang soars up LPGA T-Mobile Match Play leaderboard thanks to electric finish

New Las Vegas resident Rose Zhang felt right at home at Shadow Creek during Wednesday’s opening round of the T-Mobile Match Play.

She carded a 5-under 67, the second-best round of the day, and is one stroke behind South Korea’s Sei Young Kim after day one. She sits in a tie for second with Danielle Kang.

“I felt like I was just really patient out there,” Zhang said of her round.

“I had a really good game plan coming in, and when you’re attacking pins, you kind of can’t really go at pins on this golf course, so making sure that I had my targets and my iron play was pretty exceptional.”

Zhang finished with four straight birdies on the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th holes to vault up the leaderboard from one to 5-under, putting herself in a prime position.

“I was able to pin-seek a little bit more. I felt really confident with my irons, and I had good yardages coming in,” Zhang said of her concluding birdie barrage.

Rose Zhang, LPGA, T-Mobile Match Play

Photo by Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images

“So, taking all of that into account, I got a couple of putts within five, six feet, within three feet, and that really helped me. Then capitalized a longer putt on the last.”

This week’s event on the LPGA Tour is different, starting with the first round taking place on Wednesday instead of Thursday. But after Thursday’s second round, a 36-hole cut will take the top 65 and ties. Then, after Friday’s third round, only the top eight players will advance after 54 holes.

On Saturday, an 8-person match play event will commence, with the quarterfinals in the morning and the semifinals in the afternoon.

The two players left standing will square off on Sunday in the finals.

“It definitely doesn’t change any strategy, but I know that the weather is going to be a little bit different over the next couple of days,” Zhang said of the format.

“So keeping that in the back of my mind and still trying to grind it out, that’s what’s most important when you’re trying to make cuts. You really just can’t think about it. You have to fully execute whatever you can when you’re out there, especially with it being a very difficult course, a difficult track to get up and down from.”

Shadow Creek, which also hosted the original iteration of The Match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in 2018, stumped most of the field on Wednesday. Only 14 of the 96 players in the field finished under par.

Even newly-minted world number one Nelly Korda struggled somewhat. She opened with a 1-over 73.

Second-round coverage of the LPGA’s T-Mobile Match Play will begin at 7 p.m. ET live on Golf Channel.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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