DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Cheyenne Woods played in the U.S. Women’s Open, the Evian Championship and the RICOH Women’s British Open in 2014. Yet, it doesn’t take much contemplation for her when asked the best player she’s ever played with.
“Tiger Woods!” she said quickly with a laugh.
As in her uncle.
He won’t be at the LPGA’s Final Qualifying Tournament this week to watch his niece. He’s got some work of his own an hour down the road in Orlando, making his first return to competitive golf in months at the Hero World Challenge. But in Daytona Beach – or anywhere else she goes – the questions for Cheyenne always center around her uncle.
It’s nice to be related to one of the greatest players the game has ever known, but she’s trying to make a name of her own.
That’s always been her goal, and she’s well on her way after winning a Ladies European Tour this past February, the Australian Ladies Masters. But she wants golf fans to one day say: ‘Oh, that’s Cheyenne.’ Not, ‘Oh, that’s Tiger’s niece.’
“It’s definitely important, but it’s not something that I’m really focused on because I think it’ll happen regardless,” Cheyenne said. “The more I play and the more people get to know me, they’ll see me as Cheyenne. So I just come out here and do what I’ve always done and play the game I love.”
But for it to completely happen, she knows she has to do shine here at home. That’s why this week means so much. She thinks she might even be more nervous coming up the fairway on 18 Sunday if she has a chance to crack the top 20 than she was in Australia for her win.
“I guess this just has a little more weight to it because it is the dream that we all have, to play LPGA. It’s our livelihood also,” she said. “I think it just has a little more weight to it in terms of what this tournament means for this next year and our career.”
It has more weight to it as well because of what it would mean for African American women in the game. Only four other African American women have been members of the LPGA Tour, but the LPGA Tour could have as many as three African Americans with status next season. Sadena Park’s card is already locked up thanks to a top-10 finish on the Symetra Tour money list, and Woods and Ginger Howard both are trying to fight their way in at final stage this week.
One of Woods’ best friends, Shasta Averyhardt, was the last African American woman on Tour, and she’s gotten to know Renee Powell – the second African American woman on Tour in 1967 – through a golf trip to Scotland in high school in which she supervised an opposing team. So the significance isn’t lost.
“That’d be awesome. It would be special. It would be historical. Two in one year would be big,” Woods said. “Ginger’s also playing this week, so it could be a really big week for everyone.”
Woods was here last year with this chance but didn’t advance past the 72-hole cut. She thinks she’s more prepared this year after a full year going back and forth between the Symetra Tour and Ladies European Tour and only has one thing in mind this time around.
“I’m always playing to win,” Woods said. “I’m always playing to win but here it is different because the top 20 or the top whatever it is, but I always come in with the goal, play my best, play the course how I have planned, and in the end come out with my LPGA Tour card.”