Rose Zhang’s victory at the Mizuho Americas Open made her the first player in over seven decades to win on their pro LPGA debut. “I just can’t believe it,” Zhang said after her playoff win. “It was just last week that I won NCAAs with my [college] teammates, and to turn pro and come out here, it’s been amazing.”
Rose’s parents moved from China to Arcadia, California, in 2001
Rose Zhang was born on 24th May 2003 to Li Cai and Haibin Zhang. Li and Haibin grew up in Shenyang, China. They married and welcomed Bill, Rose’s older brother, in 1993. Eight years later, the family immigrated to the United States, settling in Arcadia, California.
Bill talked to The Athletic about the family’s first years in Arcadia: “Humble beginnings. It was different than the immigration that we see now, where you have, like, a rich generation that’s coming, that made a lot of money overseas, and they kind of come over here for a new life.”
Rose has visited China twice: once as a child and once in 2019 for golf. “No clue where they [her extended family] are,” Rose said. The family moved to Irvine in 2008.
Explaining why Rose asked The Athletic not to interview her parents, Bill told the outlet that she is very protective of them. “My parents are very passionate,” Bill said. “My dad is very passionate. Sometimes that gets lost in translation. … So she’s protective.”
Haibin introduced Rose to golf and quit his job to support Rose’s career
Rose struck her first golf ball aged nine after a family friend delivered clubs for her father. Haibin recognized Rose’s potential and arranged for golf lessons at a local dirt pasture. She practiced constantly using a set of $200 golf clubs purchased by Haibin. Several months after her first swing, Rose won her first tournament.
As Rose’s career gained momentum, Haibin quit his job to travel with her. Li Cai and Bill worked to support the family; Li as a dental technician, and Bill as a notary. Rose and Haibin traversed the country, sleeping in motels and airports and flying at night to avoid spending on accommodation. George Pinnell, one of Rose’s coaches, described Haibin’s role in Rose’s development:
“You should understand, a lot of her early development was done by her father. Not from a swing standpoint. He was never involved in our lessons. He left us alone. Where he really was significant was in her mental state of the game. How she works, how she thinks. That’s her father.”
Rose practiced so hard that her brother asked her to slow down. Her schedule was unsustainable, but she kept going. She’s now enjoying the fruits of her hard work.
Haibin is still part of Rose’s team. She listens to his counsel, which sometimes can be misleading. At the 2019 Junior PGA tournament, Rose lost to Yuka Saso partly because of a mistake from the middle of the 15th fairway. Rose’s instincts told her not to lay up rather than go for a shot; Haibin advised her to go for it. She listened to her father and paid the price, shooting the ball into the water.
Rose initially took full responsibility for the missed shot. However, several months later, she told The Athletic that Haibin was partially at fault:
“That shot, that was my dad, I’m not even gonna lie,” Rose said. “Slapping my thigh, that was like, wow, the most reaction you’ll see from me. I was like, dude, that’s the dumbest mistake I’ve ever made. Because I would never do that. If I went in the water, and it was on my own accord, my reaction would be a lot more different. But I freaking knew it.”