Here’s why the college star in contention at the U.S. Women’s Open (and No. 2 amateur in the world) can’t cash in big


SOUTHERN PINES, North Carolina – Rose Zhang might be the No. 1 amateur in the world, but she looks the part of a full-fledged pro this week in ways beyond her talent. Zhang’s impressive collection of logos through NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) deals rivals those sponsorships of players who already have tour cards. Just this week, Zhang became the first student-athlete to ink an NIL deal with Adidas.

Like Zhang, Stanford’s Rachel Heck also boasts an impressive portfolio of partners and deals that are believed to be more than six figures annually.

Meanwhile, Ingrid Lindblad, the No. 2 amateur in the world who trails by one at the 77th U.S. Women’s Open, doesn’t have any NIL deals. Lindblad wore a Swedish national team polo and didn’t wear a hat on Thursday in her opening 6-under 65, the lowest round by an amateur in the history of the championship.

International student-athletes are restricted when it comes to NIL deals based on their student visas. As the rules now stand, LSU coach Garrett Runion said Lindblad isn’t allowed to earn money through NIL, though the school is doing everything they can to try to open up that possibility. International students risk losing their immigration status by taking NIL money.

Lindblad, a nine-time winner at LSU, will get plenty of air-time in Friday’s television window, not only because she’s in contention at a major, but because she’s also playing alongside the greatest player in the modern era, Annika Sorenstam, who at 51 is trying to make the cut in her first LPGA major start in 14 years.

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2022 U.S. Women's Open

Ingrid Lindblad, of Sweden, lines up a putt on the 11th green during the first round of the U.S. Women’s Open golf tournament at the Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club in Southern Pines, N.C. on Thursday, June 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

It’s not unheard of for players without logos to pick up one overnight in a major championship when in the spotlight. Lindblad won’t have that opportunity this week.

This week’s purse of $10 million is the largest in women’s golf history. The winner earns $1.8 million. If Lindblad had turned pro coming into this week, she could’ve cashed in big.

When asked if she had any regrets, the LSU junior said, “When you say it, yeah, it’s … it would have been fun to win a little bit of money, but I think I’m going to stay in college for a little bit more.”

Only one amateur has ever won this championship, Catherine Lacoste in 1967.

Lindblad was Runion’s first recruit at LSU. When she came on campus for a visit, she was ranked 200th in the world. Runion told her to make the No. 1 sign with her index finger.

“You’re going to be the No. 1 amateur and my first recruit,” he said, taking pictures of her around campus holding up No. 1.

Lindblad has worked hard in the shadows of Zhang of late, but that bright light could shift in a major way this week. She’ll just have to wait longer for the payday.