Rose Zhang at Mizuho Americas Open
Rose Zhang tees off on the second hole. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images via LPGA)

Rose Zhang Cards 2-Under 70 at Mizuho Americas Open in Pro Debut

Jersey City, N.J. - Women's golf's newest pro made her debut Thursday at the inaugural Mizuho Americas Open at Liberty National Golf Club.  Rose Zhang, who put together a stellar amateur career, made her much anticipated professional debut with a 2-under 70 to kick off her weekend in Jersey City.

"It was amazing," Zhang said of her debut. "It felt pretty regular throughout the round once I got into the zone.  Jason (Zhang's caddie) was by my side.  He gave me great yardages and we just had a great time."

While Zhang's round wasn't perfect--she admitted that her putting could have been better--she also showed why her turning pro was much anticipated.  Perhaps the moment that highlighted her skill came when she chipped-in for birdie on hole 13.

"I probably hit it into one of the smallest bunkers possible, especially on that par-5.  But that chip-in was just amazing," Zhang said of the play.  Gave me a little bit of adrenaline going into the next couple of holes, and found out I had a couple putter yips."

Elsewhere around Liberty National, Lauren Hartlage carded a 7-under 65 to secure the lead after round one.  Hartlage recorded six birdies and one eagle.  Her eagle came on her first hole of the day, setting her up well for the rest of the day.

"I eagled the first hole.  Hit it to a foot and tapped in for eagle, so getting off to a really good start always helps, Hartlage said of her first round performance.  "I was just hitting my driver great.  I think I hit almost every fairway, and out here getting yourself in a good position, the greens are pretty receptive, so it's getting yourself in the fairway, and I gave myself a lot of good birdie chances."

Checking in in second behind Hartlage, Aditi Ashok sits two strokes out of first place with a first round 5-under-par 67.  Ashok, who has been playing well recently with two top-5 finishes in her last two stroke play events, including the Cognizant Founders Cup, finished the day with no bogies and five birdies.

Rounding out the top-3 on the LPGA side of the Mizuho Americas Open, Stephanie Meadow and Atthaya Thitikul share the third spot on the leaderboard after day one at -4.  Meadow scored six birdies, but added two bogies to reach her final score for the day, while Thitikul carded one bogy and five birdies for her round.

New Jersey natives Megha Ganne and Marina Alex finished their day at +4 and +8 respectively.

On the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) side of the tournament, Yana Wilson currently leads the field with 41 points while, Garden State native, Katie Li currently sits in a tie for tenth with 33 points.  The juniors are using Stableford scoring that gives a point value to bogies, pars, birdies, eagles, and more.

The Mizuho Americas Open continues at Liberty National on Friday with the first groups of golfers teeing off at 7:15

Christopher Shannon