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ND Women’s Golf: Freshman competes in US Open

Michael Todisco | Tuesday, August 31, 2010

For many college golfers, the ultimate aspiration is to one day tee it up with the professionals. Players log endless hours at the practice range and putting green in an attempt to achieve this dream.

For freshman Nicole Zhang, this dream has already become a reality.

Before ever making a shot at the collegiate level, Zhang competed this summer in the U.S. Women’s Open, making her the first Irish golfer ever to do so. Zhang fired back-to-back 78s for a two-day total of 14-over at Oakmont Country Club near Pittsburgh.

Although she missed the cut, Irish coach Susan Holt was optimistic about Zhang’s performance.

“The U.S. Open experience was amazing for Nicole,” Holt said. “She learned so much playing a course like that in such difficult conditions. Playing against such amazing competition and under immense pressure will help her in the future.”

Zhang was the No. 10-ranked recruit in the nation, according to Golfweek. Zhang’s older brother, Dustin, is a senior on the Irish men’s golf team.

“Nicole has so much potential,” Holt said. “From tee to green, she doesn’t have a single glaring weakness in her game. More importantly, she enjoys herself out there and loves the game.”

As for the upcoming season, Holt said she is confident Zhang will have a smooth and successful start to her collegiate career.

“Nicole has made the transition into college with great ease,” Holt said. “She is a wonderful young lady with a great personality, and she has fit in well. The team is excited to have her here and the players truly believe Nicole can help the team get to where they want to be.”

Although Zhang is already an accomplished player on the national circuit, Holt said she still has areas of her game to improve.

“Even really good players can get better at something every day,” Holt said. “Even though Nicole has a complete and well-rounded game, she could work on her consistency. If she improves upon [that], she will be able to play some amazing golf this year.”