The heather around the fairways of Walton Heath looks amazing, but Rose Zhang knows that she can’t end up in it this week…
It looks good, but you don’t want your ball to go in it. That’s Rose Zhang’s view on the ‘beautiful but terrible’ heather surrounding the fairways at Walton Heath.
This is the first time that Walton Heath is playing host to the AIG Women’s Open and also the first time that Zhang is playing a tournament in England.
It will be her third outing at Women’s Open – having played at both Carnoustie and Muirfield over the last two years as an amateur – and she’s ready for the challenge.
“Well, I knew that Walton Heath when I first came here, and when I first heard about it, it wasn’t really a links-style golf course,” Zhang explained.
“When I was out here, it definitely was different from the previous Women’s Opens that I’ve played, Muirfield and Carnoustie, those are very traditional links-style golf courses.
“So when I came out here, I was well aware of the heather. The heather is beautiful but it’s terrible to be in. Not somewhere you want to be this week.
“And I will say that I believe the course is beautiful. It’s playing a little bit softer. Just because there’s so much rain. I heard Friday, Saturday, it was a downpour in the UK.
“So the whole golf course is a little bit wet, but I think if the golf course continues to be wet, there’s going to be really good players who are going to score low scores.”
In her rookie year as a professional, Zhang’s major record has been exemplary.
She did not play in the Chevron Championship, but has since gone on to record top tens at the Women’s PGA Championship, US Women’s Open and the Evian Championship.
Zhang also made history earlier this year, when she won the Mizuho Americas Open. She became the first woman in 72 years to win in her first start on the LPGA Tour.
Coming into just her fourth major tournament as a professional golfer, she is one of the most in-form players in the field.
“I would just say that I think in the majors that I’ve played in so far this year, it’s been pretty incredible to just be able to compete as a professional,” she added.
“Last year and the last couple years, I’ve been able to have somewhat of an experience as an amateur in playing these major championships.
“And I knew how hard and how gruelling every single week is, so taking that into consideration, making sure I’m preparing my body and making sure that I’m going out there and having a really good strategy has allowed me to commit to my game when I’m out there playing.
“No doubt, it’s really hard to be out there, and you know that it’s a big event, but keeping yourself in composure and in your stride is something that I’ve done well in the last three events.
“It feels a lot more different just because even though I’m the same, player, there’s been a lot of experiences in the last few months that have changed a lot for my life.
“But I would say that last year as an amateur, I guess I was just kind of having fun and figuring out how I could compete with these professionals.
“Now that I’ve been playing a couple of events with everyone out here and playing against the best in the world, I have realised that I’ve been able to compete.
“It’s just a matter of how execute every single shot and how I am able to perform. But yeah, I would say I’ve enjoyed both, just different stages in life, and I’m in another one this year.”
- NOW READ: AIG Women’s Open tee times and pairings
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