Cheyenne Woods, Tiger Woods' Niece, Debuts at Wegmans LPGA Event
Cheyenne Woods, niece of high-profile golf champion Tiger Woods, is making her debut in the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association). Woods, 18 years-old, will be participating in the Wegmans LPGA golf tournament in Pittsford, Rochester, New York, on June 25 through a sponsor invitation.
Woods first encountered golf at the age of 19 months, when her mother, Susan Woods, took her to watch her uncle and then-reigning United States Junior Amateur champion, Tiger Woods, make his debut during a PGA (Professional Golf Association) tournament in Los Angeles.
Since then, the woman known as Tiger Woods' niece has become an esteemed golfer in her own right. Woods has won over 30 amateur tournaments, and is the second best golfer at Wake Forest University, where she recently completed her freshman year. She also tied for 13th place at the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) women's championships in May 2009. The LPGA tournament will be Woods' first tour event, about which she was notified between classes at school.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Woods said this month after a practice session in Scottsdale, Ariz. She had paid $20 for a bucket of balls and was hitting irons on the range of a resort before driving across town to play 18 holes at a course where she is not charged for her rounds. “I was really excited.”
While Woods looks forward to the tournament with the encouragement of her family, all are aware of the pressure she is facing, both as the niece of Tiger Woods and as an African-American woman, the New York Times reports. Woods will be one of only four African-Americans with a golf tour playing card, and the first in nearly a decade, since LaRee Sugg.
It is not just her family name that Woods has pressure to uphold. Every time she steps to the tee, she is representing African-Americans, who do not have many role models in women’s golf. According to the L.P.G.A. Web site, three African-Americans have had a tour playing card, none since LaRee Sugg in 2000.
Woods, who bears a striking facial resemblance to Tiger — except for her nose piercing — said, “If I wasn’t ready, then it probably wouldn’t be good for me to go out and not play well.”
Woods was first coached by her grandfather, Earl Woods Sr. Since his death in 2006, her uncle Tiger has supported her in his father's stead.
Woods' coach at Wake Forest, Dianne Dailey, is unsurprised at the young golfers' early success. According to Dailey, Woods is humble and down to earth, does not expoit her unique golf connection, and fairly plays her way through every round and onto every team, including making the top five of a 36-hole Wake Forest qualifier while suffering from strep throat.
“If she were not Tiger Woods’s niece, she would still have a specialness about her,” Dailey said. “She has a knack for being a role model.”
Little girls are drawn to her, Dailey said, adding: “She’ll look them in the eye, shake their hand and talk to them for 30 minutes. She is so poised.”