WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — At least one Woods is a winner this year.
Tiger Woods’ title slump certainly hasn’t extended to his niece Cheyenne. After winning the Atlantic Coast Conference individual golf title, the Wake Forest junior wants to keep establishing her own identity during the upcoming NCAA regionals.
“Coming into Wake Forest (in 2008) … there was a lot of spotlight on me as Tiger Woods’ niece,” Woods said Tuesday. “Now that I’m into college a little more, I’ve shown that I am able to play, not being known as Tiger’s niece, but I have my own game, too. I feel people are starting to recognize that, and this past weekend, I think, helped a lot.”
A few more weekends like this one, and people might start to wonder if Cheyenne ought to offer some tips to her uncle after he has gone 17 months without a victory – the longest drought of his career.
During that span, Cheyenne Woods has won twice.
The Phoenix native ranks fourth in the ACC with an average score of 73.59. Most recently, she was the only player under par for all three rounds at the ACC championship at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro.
Closing the tournament with a 68 that marked her best round of the season, Woods shot a 5-under 208 at the par-71 course to claim a seven-stroke win.
That lopsided margin of victory was reminiscent of the way Tiger used to dominate fields during his 71 career victories, including 14 majors. Describing their relationship as “decently close – as close as I am with any other uncle,” Cheyenne Woods said Tiger watched her victory on the Internet, sent her text messages and posted a congratulatory tweet after her victory.
Though having the Woods name stitched onto her golf bag undoubtedly brings extra pressure, she insists coming from her family has been a positive. Her father Earl Jr. is Tiger’s half-brother, and her paternal grandfather was Earl Sr.
“It’s definitely gotten my name out there as a collegiate golfer about to turn pro next year. It’s a good thing to have,” Cheyenne Woods said. “It’s helped me grow as a person and a player, being able to handle the interviews, the cameras, the spotlight.”
Said Wake Forest golf coach Dianne Dailey: “She’s just laid back – you don’t see her get bent out of shape about much. I don’t think her heart rate goes above 50.”
There’s definitely a family resemblance between uncle and niece. It’s found in their faces, not necessarily in their playing styles.
Cheyenne Woods says her swing compares more favorably to Ernie Els’ because it’s “nice and smooth, but still powerful.” Meanwhile, she says her uncle “is always hitting it, swinging out of his shoes, hitting it 400 yards.”
“My game is probably not as aggressive, but when I do need to make those shots, I will make them,” Cheyenne Woods said.
Dailey praises Woods’ calmness and her handiwork with the putter, saying she “reads greens better than anybody on our team.”
Woods’ immediate focus focus is on the NCAA regionals, and Wake Forest is almost certain to claim a spot in one of the three regional tournaments when the bids are announced Monday. After the NCAAs comes one final season with the Demon Deacons before she plans to turn pro.
“I know it’s going to be hard getting started – I’m not going to expect myself to jump up to the No. 1 spot and be the female Tiger Woods, like he was,” Cheyenne Woods said. “But I know I am talented, and I’ll just take it as it comes, work hard. I know there’s going to be ups and downs, so I know it’s a hard life, living the professional life, traveling. … I think it will be a struggle, but it’s one that I’m looking forward to and willing to work towards.”