LPGA star Rose Zhang talks candidly about what she has learned so far as she navigates her way through life as a professional golfer

As the Hilton Grand Vacation Tournament of Champions tees off, Rose Zhang will mark the start of her first full season on the LPGA Tour. After a glittering amateur career, she took the professional world by storm last June, winning the first event she played in.

Since then there has been a media frenzy wherever the 20-year-old goes. Not only is she trying to balance practice and tournament play with her newfound stardom, she is also attempting to complete her communications degree at Stanford University.

Ahead of this week's event, she sat down with assembled US golf media to discuss how she is navigating her professional golf career as she looks ahead to 2024.

In the short time you have been out here on the LPGA, what is the most significant thing you learned?

I think the biggest thing about last year, my little rookie season, was just to not pile so much on my plate. It's been a lot that's happened, and I feel like I will continuously have a lot that's going to be happening. It's almost like every single day, almost like I'm in a rush to complete a lot of things.

Balancing everything and being able to handle all the attention as well. I think it made me realize that there are times where I need to focus on certain things and take a step back. Try to make those things improve, including my golf game, school grind, et cetera. Having that clear mindset of what I want to do on a day to day basis instead of rushing into things is something I've been kind of working on.

How are you prioritizing?

It's still a work in progress. I think I'm learning a lot more as there are more things coming my way. I would say that the prioritizing, it would just come little by little as I continue to navigate the waters of pro life and school life, how they intervene with each other.

Also since I'm now kind of a grown adult, I have to actually figure out everything else, just including moving houses, all the paperwork and stuff. I think the people have really helped me in my life, from my team to my family and friends. They've been really supportive. So the priorities I think will come, but as of now, it's golf, school. Pretty simple. Not too much happening!

Is it difficult for you to say no, in terms of prioritizing?

100%. That's also one of the biggest lessons I learned. I remember talking about it last year at the end of the year, about saying no. You know, I always have been a people pleaser, but not just for others but for myself, too. I think the adjustments of saying no are just such a crucial skill to learn, especially when you're going to have a lot more on your plate. It's necessary for you to be able to maximize what you can do, what you can't do. So slowly still learning.

What may be the biggest thing you have tried to push off your plate and say no to?

As of now, it hasn't been too crazy. I would say my nos are just pushing off like in terms of schedule. Some people remember some like kind of tasks that I need to do, they're not immediate. They're not required to be immediate. Obviously there is an ideal date for every one. When there is really busy days, try to push it a day or two off so I can focus on other things when it comes to practice, PT, et cetera. Like those are probably more so the priority. Then I revolve everything else around that.

Before it was like, people have asked me to do this, therefore I have to make this the priority, rather than my own game, responsibilities, et cetera. So it's more so the rearrangement of responsibility.

You kept a very active amateur career, but what's been the most drastic difference in scheduling travel and being on tour compared to being part of the amateur scene?

You're playing a lot more golf, that's first of all. Full rounds of golf and they're competitive. At the same time, once you're done with Sunday, you're traveling straight to the next event. Usually in amateur golf they're only probably three, four days long max. Those are really long events. You have probably at least a week or two to go back, settle in, you know, usually I go back to practice a little bit or take a day or two off. But that's not really the case when you're out here on tour, especially in different time zones. Your body has to adjust to so many things and different stresses, environments

So that really just changes the entire dynamic of how your supposed to play the game and where your mind space is. Amateur golf is still very much competitive. I would argue that a lot of the amateurs, they all have the skillset to be playing here on tour, but it's just a matter of who can manage it the best.

The LPGA this year will play for $120 plus million. As a player who has spent years chasing trophies, now money is an element. Does that change anything about how you go about things or how you view just the game itself?

Not necessarily. I think for all players it's a big bonus for us, you know, for the LPGA to have a lot more monetary value and everyone to have a career where they can earn a good amount. It's great, but I think everyone genuinely loves the sport to keep pursuing this game.

Even when the LPGA didn't have a lot of money in events people were still playing because they just love the sport. I think that the overall transition of the LPGA growing, the monetary value has just risen up with it.

So for us it's just we're still playing the same tournaments, still the same people. It's just nice to be a little more comfortable without having to worry a lot about the money.

What are your goals for 2024 out on tour?

I'm definitely a result-driven person. I'm not someone who wants a certain ranking by the end of the year or I want to win this event by the end of the year. I'm more process-driven, so when it comes to just mini goals and what I want to do in school, what I want to do on the golf course, figure out my putting, figure out my chipping, hitting, all that stuff, the goal is to just be consistent in these areas and then figure out how to perform from there. I generally don't have a number in mind on what I need to do. It's more so I play by ear.

This week Zhang is competing in the LPGA season opener - view the full leaderboard here.