by Jeff Skinner
Fresh off her win last week at the Australian Masters Cheyenne Woods will step off of cloud nine to tee it up again down under at the ISPS Handa Australian Open. Woods’ ever increasing celebrity will take another bounce this week if she can continue her fine play against names like Stacy Lewis, Suzann Pettersen, Lydia Ko, Jessica Korda, Lexi Thompson and Paula Creamer.
Tiger’s niece has got her game in order and was able to close out the win last week for her first win on a top level tour. Granted, last week’s win was a Ladies European Tour event and not a major championship field but there were plenty of big names and it certainly was a quality field.
This week’s Australian Open has Woods paired with legend Laura Davies and bomber Brittany Lincicome, certainly a step up in class for Woods. Analysts rave about Woods’ swing but what has all of us talking about her isn’t her silky motion it’s her last name. And that can be a blessing or a curse.
To the younger Woods’ credit she is very adamant about wanting to earn her way onto the LPGA Tour. And this win is a big step toward that goal. Being who she is she was certainly going to get a few sponsor invites on the LPGA but with this win she has legitimized herself and more exemptions are sure to come her way.
Is it a coincidence she has a Nike contract? No chance. Did she interview other agents before she signed with Tiger’s Mark Steinberg? Hardly. But has she carried herself like a professional? Has she displayed poise and maturity since she turned pro? Absolutely.
As far as her last name being a blessing it definitely has opened doors for her and let’s not forget that it was her grandfather, Earl Woods that introduced her to golf, just like he did his son. And she certainly has a valuable resource in her 79 PGA Tour win uncle Tiger.
But with that connection comes pressure and expectations and maybe a little bias from those Tiger haters. But Cheyenne isn’t Tiger, not on the course or off it. At least not yet.
Woods was a very accomplished player at Wake Forest earning All America honors twice, all ACC honors three times and was an ACC Champion before she graduated with a Communications degree. We profiled her here in 2009 but she was earning her place in the game even before college.
Woods, the niece, attended Xavier Prep High School in Phoenix, a powerhouse with 31 Arizona State Championships. Her coach there was Sister Lynn Winsor and Woods has kept her relationship with her coach and school alive and visits there often, “How many golfers would ever come back to visit their high school coach a couple times a year?” Sister Lynn said. “It’s more than golf. It’s friendship. She’s a moral, caring person. She’s very grateful to everyone who’s helped her. She’s always thankful. She handles herself so well. She’s very humble.”
“This is a huge accomplishment for me,” Woods said. “The Ladies European Tour has been great to be able to play this last year. I’ve been able to see all of these great players, play with Solheim Cup members, so I’ve learned so much from all of these girls, and to be able to come out here and actually compete with them and come out on top was huge for me.”
So Woods, the niece is described as moral, caring, humble and appreciates the players around her. She may have the same last name as her uncle but the attitude and personality couldn’t be more different.