It’s been a decade since the tragic death of Cheyenne Knight’s brother, Brandon Burgett.
In July 2008, Brandon and his girlfriend were heading home after a concert around midnight when his truck was struck by a drunk driver, who was driving on the wrong side of the road. The accident took the lives of both drivers. Brandon died instantly from his injuries.
For most, the sudden loss of a sibling would have shattered their beliefs, but for Cheyenne, who was 12-years-old at the time, it only strengthened her faith and taught her to live life to the fullest.
“Brandon made me into the person and athlete I am today,” said Cheyenne, who will begin her rookie year in January on the LPGA Tour. “I not only live and play for Jesus, but I play and compete to honor Brandon and his legacy.”
Cheyenne and Brandon grew up in The Woodlands, Texas. She adored her brother and remembers watching him play soccer and football. She also played soccer, along with basketball and equestrian horseback riding.
Cheyenne’s dad, Gene, an avid golfer, shared his love of the game with his daughter and three sons. Whether it was a member-guest tournament, a club championship, or just hitting the course on the weekend, he was eager to share his passion with his children. While his sons never expressed an interest in the game, 9-year-old Cheyenne decided she’d give it a try when her best friend invited her to participate in a three-hole golf league. Gene jumped at the chance to take Cheyenne to the course
Cheyenne only wanted to be with her best friend, but when she learned there would be food and swimming afterward she agreed to play in the summer golf league. The golf consisted of three holes, each starting from the 150-yard marker.
“I started decent, probably making bogey or double bogey, but on the last hole I made a 15. I hit it into the trees and took me quite a few to get out. I came in last, and I am quite competitive. From then on, I was motivated to work on my golf game because I wanted to win and get a trophy or ribbon.”
She was hooked, and her dad couldn’t have been happier. He took Cheyenne to the golf course every day and worked with her on every aspect of the game.
Cheyenne grew up idolizing Lorena Ochoa and Tiger Woods, but admitted it was her dad and her brothers who inspire her to play. She soon began dreaming of one day playing on the LPGA Tour.
“Ever since I was nine years old it was something I wanted to accomplish,” Cheyenne said about playing on Tour.
It wasn’t long before Cheyenne also began dreaming of playing college golf. She grew up a die-hard fan of Texas A&M, her father’s alma mater. Cheyenne would likely have followed him to College Station had she not watched the University of Alabama women’s golf team win the National Championship in 2012. It was at that moment she knew that’s where she wanted to play.
“I wanted to be on the team with Emma Talley and learn from [coaches] Mick Potter and Susan Rosenstiel,” Cheyenne said.
She competed for three years at Alabama and from day one was an impact player for her team, which included Emma Talley, who would later join the LPGA Tour. Emma, a senior at the time, made an immediate impact on Cheyenne during her first week with the team.
“I had about an eight-footer for birdie and Emma goes, ‘Alright fresh meat let’s see what you got.’ I drained the putt. It was a moment I will never forget because they pushed me to become a better player in those situations.”
Cheyenne won national freshman of the year honors and was a three-time, first-team All-American.
“The girls on the team pushed me to become a better player and person and to learn how to believe and trust in myself.”
In 2017, Cheyenne advanced out of the second stage of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament to secure Symetra Tour status for the 2018 season, but she elected to skip the final stage of qualifying in order to maintain her college eligibility. She turned pro and joined the Symetra Tour during the summer of 2018.
In her first start on the Symetra Tour, Cheyenne found herself in contention at the Four Winds Invitational, but a final round 72 set her back to a tie for 11th. She finished inside the top 10 in 4 of 15 starts in 2018, including a career-best tie for sixth at the season ending Symetra Tour Championship.
“I learned how to enjoy the little things. Life on the road was a grueling experience,” explained Cheyenne. “However, it made me stronger in my faith, and every day I made an effort to do something that makes me happy.”
Cheyenne finished 32nd on the Symetra Tour money list and well outside the top 10 who automatically earned their LPGA Tour card. She was forced to take her chance at Stage II of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament. She finished inside the top 40 to advanced to the grueling eight-round LPGA Q-Series and move one step closer to realizing her dream of playing on the LPGA Tour.
But Cheyenne struggled early at Q-Series. She opened with a round of 81. That’s when she turned to the memory of her brother to help turnaround her week and earn her card for 2019.
“I put 33 on my wrist to be a constant reminder that Brandon was there with me, even when it felt like I just lost the chance of having my LPGA tour card,” Cheyenne recalled. “After the final round, when I knew I secured my card, I hugged my mom and we both burst into tears. She said ‘Brandon is so proud of his little sister.’”
Cheyenne is ready for the LPGA Tour. Her summer spent on the Symetra Tour, advancing through the LPGA Qualifying tournament and enduring eight rounds of golf at the LPGA Q-Series has given her the confidence she needs to play with the best in the world.
“When I’m on the golf course, I always feel Brandon’s presence,” Cheyenne said. “And he is going to be with me every step of my journey on the LPGA Tour.”
While the Texas native is looking forward to all the events next season, teeing it up in her home state at the Volunteers of America Classic will be a special one.
She’s sure to be a local favorite, with an angel on her bag.