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Record-breaking amateur Rose Zhang given special exemption for the AIG Women's Open

Rose Zhang will compete in the AIG Women’s Open at Walton Heath from 9-13 August 2023.
Rose Zhang will compete in the AIG Women’s Open at Walton Heath from 9-13 August 2023 (Image credit: David Cannon / Getty Images)

Rose Zhang will compete in the AIG Women’s Open at Walton Heath, England from 9 – 13 August, 2023. In recognition of her outstanding achievements as an amateur, The R&A has offered the American a special exemption for the world class major championship. This will be the third time the 20-year-old has competed in the AIG Women’s Open but the first as a professional following her recent official announcement. Zhang made her debut in 2021 at Carnoustie where she missed the cut by one stroke.

Last year, Zhang posted rounds of 72, 70, 70, 73 for a two-over-par total of 285 at Muirfield to win the Smyth Salver as the leading amateur. Zhang said: “I am honoured to have received a special exemption for the AIG Women’s Open at Walton Heath. I would like to thank The R&A for providing me with this incredible opportunity at the very beginning of my professional career and I hope to make the most of it. “I have great memories of winning the Smyth Salver at Muirfield last year and was proud to see my name alongside so many great names on that trophy. This year I will be competing at the AIG Women’s Open for the first time as a professional. The AIG Women’s Open is a championship I would love to win one day and if that were to be at Walton Heath it would be very special.” Zhang made history as an amateur, currently spending 141 weeks as the number one golfer in the women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking® (WAGR®). She reached the number one position in WAGR® for the first time in September 2020 and went on to beat Lydia Ko’s record of 130 consecutive weeks by remaining at the top of the ranking until she turned professional. Last month, Zhang also surpassed the record total of 135 weeks set by Leona Maguire of Ireland in 2018. Zhang received the Mark H McCormack Medal as the world’s leading women’s amateur golfer in 2020, 2021 and 2022. Her other amateur achievements include being the first women’s player to win two NCAA individual titles following her successful title defence of the NCAA Division 1 Women’s Championship this week. This also saw her surpass the number of wins Tiger Woods achieved as a Stanford University golfer. Zhang also won the Augusta National Women’s Amateur last month and the US Women’s Amateur two years ago. She also played a leading role in the American Curtis Cup team’s victories over Great Britain and Ireland at Conwy and Merion in 2021 and 2022 respectively. Martin Slumbers, CEO of The R&A said: “Rose Zhang is an incredibly talented golfer who has already written her name into the history books as an amateur golfer. It is very rare that we grant a special exemption for the AIG Women’s Open but we believe that Rose’s exceptional achievements to date warrant her inclusion in the field at Walton Heath. “I enjoyed seeing Rose win the Smyth Salver at the AIG Women’s Open last year at Muirfield and I hope that she makes the most of her opportunity at Walton Heath this year.”