“I’ve been pro for two years and, for the majority of it, people just think of me as Tiger Woods’ niece so now I have a game of my own and I have a title now, a win, which is exciting. It’s nice now to say to people that I can play and I’m not just a name.” – Cheyenne Woods
Carrying a famous name and famous kinship can be a boon. It can also be a burden. For Cheyenne Woods, trying to pave a way in the golfing world has come with expectation. And largely she has been successful. She was an All-American at Wake Forest University. She was a 2-time state champion at Xavier College Preparatory. She has over 30 amateur victories, including the 2011 Atlantic Coast Conference championship. But for all of her success, at the end of the day she has probably been best known as Tiger Woods’ niece. Even I called her that in the heading of this post. Although only a pro for 2 years, her professional success has been somewhat sparse, with only a Sun Coast mini-tour victory. On the full tours, she’s hadn’t broken through. Although she has played on the LPGA through sponsor’s exemptions, she missed the cut at LPGA Q-school back in December. Still, had she been a 23 year old player not related to Tiger Woods, she could simply develop without burden.
Well, Cheyenne Woods’ wait for her own professional golf glory is over. She shot a final round 4-under par 69 (par is 73 at this event) to finish at 16-under overall, outpacing 17-year old amateur Minjee Lee by 2 shots to win the 2014 Volvik RACV Ladies Masters, a Ladies European Tour tournament. It was a tight battle down the back 9 between the two young guns, with Cheyenne able to open a 2 shot lead on 15 by sticking her approach to 4 feet for a birdie putt. Both players birdied 18, with Woods tapping in a 1 footer for the win. As an ancillary bonus, the first LPGA tournament was won by American Jessica Korda, who was also in this field. Now another American, Cheyenne Woods, has lifted a trophy on the LET. Perhaps the burden now shifts from being Tiger Woods’ niece to the question of whether Cheyenne can continue to develop into a player who can be the face of women’s golf for mainstream, non-golf diehard, sports fans. Granted, she has a long way to go to get to that point, but this is a start.
So let this be the last time I put her relationship to Tiger Woods in a post title. I’m not saying I won’t mention it in the body of a post ever again, but it should no longer be the headline. She is her own golfer and has earned to right to be judged only by her own accomplishments. It’s time for us all to recognize that Cheyenne Woods is making a name for herself.
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