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Rose Zhang hopes tempered aggressiveness, better putting give her a chance on Sunday

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Rose Zhang knows what she needs to do in order to challenge on Sunday at the U.S. Women’s Open.

She needs to be aggressive. But not “aggressive-aggressive.”

“The definition of aggressive here at Pebble is completely different from other golf courses,” she said Saturday after shooting an even-par 72 to finish in a tie for ninth at 1 over, eight back of leader Nasa Hataoka.

Zhang got it to red numbers in the third round, making birdie at both of the front-nine par 5s. She turned in 1 under par for the championship, but, as was the case for most in the field, she fought to hang on over the back nine.

“The winds were pretty high, and [I] knew that the ocean breeze was definitely causing the ball to go all sorts of places,” said Zhang, who did a walk-and-talk interview for NBC on the ninth hole, which she parred.

“But I felt like I hit everything pretty solid. I just wish I could have made more putts.”

Zhang lost strokes to the field in putting on Saturday, needing 30 of them. She said she identified the problem a little too late for Round 3, but in time to make corrections for the finale.

“I found out that right before I actually made my par putt on 16, my club face was a little bit open at address, so even if I do have a good stroke, I tend to miss right today,” she said.

“I think going into tomorrow just understanding my alignment and committing to that stroke is what I’m planning on doing.”

This is Zhang’s second major start as a professional. She was six back entering the final round of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship two weeks ago and got within one of the lead on Sunday, before tying for eighth.

“Definition of aggressive would probably be hit greens,” she said of her plan of attack this time around. “That’s it. Center of the greens and then you putt around.”