Rose Zhang and Megan Khang were the first group off for Team USA in the four-ball session of Day 1 at the Solheim Cup.
The LPGA rookie’s putter came alive on the back nine to save the match, as they halved the match with Team Europe.
The Zhang-Khang pairing was a fantastic choice from Captain Stacy Lewis.
“I’ve been loving the crowds and just being alongside Megan [Khang]. It was just such a fun and electric round,” Zhang said. “We were ham-and-egging everything, and I felt like as long as I had Megs on my back, like, I was able to come back from anything. So it was an incredible first day.”
After being 2-UP on Team Europes’ Gemma Dryburgh and Madelene Sagstrom through 10 holes, the momentum shifted. The Europeans won each of the next two holes to square the match.
But Zhang showed ice in her veins on the par-4 13th and par-4 16th, where she made two of the most clutch putts of the day.
The Europeans were in position for an easy birdie-3 on 13, but Zhang wasn’t letting a third straight hole slip away. She sank a lengthy birdie putt herself to halve the hole.
The match almost got away a few holes later on 16, but again, she came up big.
“We were on 16 — it was a really clutch putt,” Zhang said about her biggest moment of the day.
Dryburgh had chipped in from the fairway for birdie, sending the European crowd into a frenzy. It appeared they might take a lead with two holes to go, but the 20-year-old phenom answered.
Zhang and Khang had a great start to their day, both driving the green on the par-4 1st hole.
“The first tee Rose [Zhang] striping it onto the green because I had not hit a ball until then from my last match,” Khang said. “So her hitting the green gave me the green light to go and freed me up a lot.”
It turned out to be a thrilling, up and down match that could have been won by either team.
But if it weren’t for Zhang’s two clutch moments down the stretch, Team USA might have watched their hot start go to waste.
“Halves are huge. I think from past Solheims, you forget how important halves are,” Khang said.
“I think halves are one of the most important things when it comes to team match play,” Zhang said. “You never know how important it is until it’s down to the last half point point. So being able to start out without losing is just huge for the next couple of days when we come back.”
After sweeping the morning Foursome session 4-0, the Americans dropped two matches and tied two of them to lead 5-3 after Day 1 of the Solheim Cup.
Savannah Leigh Richardson is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. You can follow her on Twitter @SportsGirlSL and Instagram @savannah_leigh_sports for more golf coverage. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough too.