No. 1 Ranked Women’s Amateur Rose Zhang Receives Sponsor Exemption
Mesa, Ariz. – To open the 2021 Symetra Tour season, Longbow Golf Club in Mesa, Ariz. is set to host the inaugural Carlisle Arizona Women’s Golf Classic from March 18-21. A full field of competitors will battle for a total purse of $200,000. Individuals are set to compete in a 72-hole stroke play format with a cut to the low 60 players and ties after 36 holes. The winner’s share for the event is $30,000.
Rose Zhang, currently the No. 1 ranked golfer in Rolex AJGA and the WAGR Women’s rankings, has received a sponsor exemption to play in the event from Longbow Golf Club. The 17-year old from Irvine, Calif. is a high school senior and is committed to attend Stanford University in the fall. Zhang catapulted to No. 1 in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking late last summer when she defeated defending champion Gabriela Ruffels in the 36-hole championship match of the 120th U.S. Women’s Amateur, and then outdueled the Australian for low-amateur honors a month later in the ANA Inspiration. She is also scheduled to be part of the 85-player field at the 2021 Augusta National Women’s Amateur, a 54-hole event, set for March 31-April 3.
“Since Rose first competed at Longbow as a 13-year-old high school freshman in the 2017 AJGA Heather Farr Classic, her on-course accomplishments have earned her top rankings across the sport,” said Bob McNichols, General Manager of Longbow Golf Club. “I have no doubt she will compete at a high level against the field here in Mesa.”
After receiving sponsor invites from Carlisle Companies, Olivia Mehaffey (Belfast, Ireland) and Ashley Menne (Surprise, Ariz.) will be joining Zhang in the field next week. Mehaffey found success in golf prior to coming overseas for her collegiate career. In 2016, she won the Irish Women’s Open Championship and the Welsh Ladies Open Stroke Play Championship, and helped lead the Great Britain & Ireland team to the Curtis Cup victory. The four-time All-American Arizona State Sun Devil made her first appearance in a professional event at the 2016 AIG Women’s Open. In 2020, Mehaffey made the cut at the 2020 ANA Inspiration and also competed in the AIG Women’s Open and U.S. Women’s Open.
Menne will be competing in her first LPGA or Symetra Tour event. She might not have as many professional tournaments under her belt, but she certainly knows desert golf. Menne was a three-time AIA Division I Individual State Champion and won the Arizona High School Girls Golfer of the Year Award at the AZ Central Sports Awards each of the four years she was a Gator for Xavier Prep. She is currently in her freshman year at Arizona State University.
“A few have asked ‘Why have all the exemptions gone to amateurs?’” added McNichols. “Juniors play at a professional level and have done so since the days of Heather Farr and are worthy of competing in a professional competition. The USGA’s recent changes in amateur compensation are evidence of a changing world in golf.”
Carlisle Arizona Women’s Golf Classic action will get underway at 7 a.m. local time all four days. Play will start off the No. 1 and 10 tees for the first three rounds, while the final round will all be off No. 1. A trophy presentation on No. 18 green is scheduled to follow final-round play.
Longbow Golf Club has hosted a number of Symetra Tour events, including The Founders Tribute at Longbow Golf Club in August 2020, and the Gateway Classic from 2013-2015 and in 2017. The 2015 event was particularly noteworthy as Hannah O’Sullivan became the youngest winner in Symetra Tour history (16 years, 9 months, 11 days) and retains the distinction as the youngest ever and most recent amateur to capture a Symetra Tour title.
In 2021 Longbow will host nearly two dozen professional, collegiate and high-level amateur competitions, including the AGA Women’s Season Opener in February; the Longbow Golf Club Clover Cup D1 NCAA Women’s Invitational and Carlisle Arizona Women’s Golf Classic in March; the AJGA Ping Heather Farr Classic in April; the US Kids Arizona State Invitational and United States Disabled Golf Open Championship in May; the American Heroes Golf Tour Championship and Golfweek Amateur Tour in June; and the Southwest Section PGA 2021 Drive Chip and Putt Regional Qualifier and USGA 2021 Senior Women’s Open Championship Qualifier in July.
Longbow Golf Club is no stranger to hosting competitive events and tournaments since opening in 1997. The Ken Kavanaugh-designed golf course has hosted the AJGA Ping Heather Farr Classic for 11-plus years, has been the host site for Cactus Tour tournaments; AGA, USGA, NCAA, NJCAA, AJGA and JGAA events; high school practices and competitions; and is the instruction home of the Fisher Bryan Golf Academy and a major instruction programming site for The First Tee of Phoenix. In December 2020, Longbow hosted the inaugural Longbow Cactus Cup Championship, a one-round, season-ending stroke play competition featuring four of The Cactus Tour’s top professional money winners. Rising LPGA star and former University of Arizona standout, Haley Moore won the winner-take-all event.
About Longbow Golf Club
Longbow Business Park and Golf Club is a 330-acre, mixed-use development, being developed by Daedalus Real Estate Advisors, that incorporates office, light industrial, retail, hotel and residential uses surrounded by desert vegetation, the main street transportation design and features the award-winning Longbow Golf Club. Troon-managed Longbow Golf Club was originally designed by Ken Kavanaugh in 1997. In 2003, Daedalus commissioned Kavanaugh to execute a complete redesign of the golf course creating a complete refresh layout.
About The Symetra Tour
The Symetra Tour is the official qualifying tour of the LPGA Tour and enters its 40th competitive season in 2020. With the support of entitlement partner Symetra, the Tour’s mission is to prepare the world’s best young women professional golfers for a successful career on the LPGA Tour. Since Symetra’s inaugural sponsorship year in 2012, the Symetra Tour has grown from 16 tournaments and $1.7 million in prize money to a record $4.0 million in prize money awarded in 2019. With more than 600 alumnae moving on to the LPGA, former Symetra Tour players have won a total of 445 LPGA titles. Follow the Symetra Tour on the web at www.SymetraTour.com.
Longbow Golf Club is professionally managed by Troon. Headquartered in Scottsdale, Ariz., Troon is the world’s largest golf management company providing services at 585-plus locations around the globe, including managing 630-plus 18-hole equivalent golf courses. In addition to golf, Troon specializes in homeowner association management, private residence clubs, estate management and associated hospitality venues. Troon’s award-winning food and beverage division operates and manages more than 620-plus food and beverage operations located at golf resorts, private clubs, daily fee golf courses and recreational facilities. With properties located in 45-plus states and 30-plus countries, Troon’s family of brands includes Troon Golf, Troon Privé, Troon International, Honours Golf, OB Sports, Indigo Golf Partners, CADDIEMASTER, True Club Solutions, Cliff Drysdale Tennis and RealFood Hospitality, Strategy and Design. Troon-affiliated properties include Princeville Makai Golf Club on Kauai; Champion Hills in Hendersonville, North Carolina; Ocean Club in Paradise Island, Bahamas; and Vattanac Golf Resort in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. For additional news and information, visit www.Troon.com.